FLOOD DESTROYS ROAD, STRANDS COFFEE IN PNG PROVINCE

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Feb. 13, 2008) - Millions of kina worth of coffee is stranded and major planters fear they could be forced out of business if the only road linking them to factories in Kainantu, Eastern Highlands Province is not fixed.

Reports from Kainantu yesterday confirmed the plight of the planters who own and run 32 large plantations at the border of the Obura/Wonenara and Kainantu areas.

"The coffee season for this year has started and we are picking our coffee but we can not move them to the factories in Kainantu because we have no road," a spokesman and owner of Akamupa plantation, Sailas Kai said from Kainantu yesterday. "We can not use the only road linking us to the factories because flooding in recent weeks is taking away the Iyaarumba bridge," he said.

Mr. Kai said the plantations expected a bumper crop this season but feared the hundreds of tons of coffee they picked were not going into the factories because of the destruction to the road and bridge by the Iyaarumba River.

The destruction to the road and bridge and the plight of the coffee planters was confirmed by the Department of Eastern Highlands.

The destruction to the infrastructure and the impact on the coffee plantations was confirmed by the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) yesterday.

A senior staff member at the CIC office at Kainantu, John Barry, said the Kainantu area had experienced a lot of rain since last month and as a result flooding was experienced in all the rivers including the Iyaarumba River.

Apart from the coffee plantations, Mr. Barry said the severity of the road link had also affected schools and health services in the area. "Teachers are stranded on the Kainantu side of the area. They are unable to take up their positions and as a result, classes have not resumed in the schools while medical supplies and health workers were also not reaching their destination," he said.

"The flooding has also destroyed food gardens and the some of the coffee plantations. Remote villagers are also isolated from the Kainantu district and traveling has been very difficult, for the villagers in this area," Barry said.

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