LUCRATIVE COFFEE FLOURISHES IN PNG HIGHLANDS

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Province generates up to $40 million a year

By Zachery Per

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 11, 2008) - The thriving coffee-related businesses in Kainantu and Obura-Wonenara districts in Eastern Highlands province generate PGK50 million to PGK100 million [US$20 million to US$40 million] annually.

These two districts account for 65 percent of exportable coffee from the province.

Philip Noya, deputy chairman of Eastern Highlands PNG Coffee Block Holders Association, disclosed this when he stressed the need for more credit facilities and commercial banks in Kainantu to meet the banking needs of traders and businessmen from the two districts.

Mr. Noya said Kainantu, although labeled as "Cowboy town," is a peaceful place with huge potential to develop its economy.

"Major coffee plantations in the districts are Clarens, Norikori, Gadsup, Barokira, Arona Valley Development Association, Colbrand and Ramu Coffee Plantations.

"We also have five coffee processors which are Ramu Coffee, Arokara, Kainantu Coffee Factory, Agoga Coffee and Colbrand Plantation," Noya said.

He said because of these sustained coffee activities, there are heavy bank transactions in Kainantu daily.

Noya said their operations were severely affected by the recent closure of the BSP Kainantu branch. He, however, was thankful to the BSP management for re-opening of the branch.

Apart from the major plantations, there are hundreds of small-holder growers in the two districts contributing towards the annual coffee export earnings, he added.

"However, deteriorating rural road work has been one of the major hurdles in bringing out coffee produce from isolated rural areas," he said.

Noya expressed regret over the transfer of the National Development Bank (NDB) from Kainantu to Mutzig in Morobe province, saying several coffee growers have been disadvantaged.

He called on relevant Government and private organizations to enliven business interests in Kainantu and Obura-Wonenara districts to further increase economic spin-off benefits for the people.

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