WORLD BANK PUTS $25 MILLION INTO PNG FARMING

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Project to build roads to market cash crops

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier) - There is good news for smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers who have either given up or on the verge of doing so.

The World Bank’s board of directors has approved a US$25 million [PGK65 million] IDA Credit to support the PNG Government’s efforts to improve rural incomes and livelihoods in key coffee and cocoa producing areas of the country.

The credit will fund the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) which aims to increase the contribution of coffee and cocoa to the livelihoods of rural communities and improve the performance and sustainability of the coffee and cocoa industries. The project will ensure local roads are upgraded to improve market access for communities in the project areas.

"With more than 80 percent of people in Papua New Guinea living in rural areas, supporting agricultural production and helping improve the lives of rural households is an important priority shared by the Government and the World Bank," said Ferid Belhaj, PNG country director.

"This project aims to make a significant impact on the livelihoods of smallholder coffee and cocoa producers. The project reflects the excellent level of dialogue reached between the PNG government and the World Bank, and opens the way for stronger cooperation and understanding."

Agriculture accounts for about a third of gross domestic product in PNG.

PNG’s agriculture sector is dominated by smallholder farming systems such as coffee and cocoa, with over 30 percent (coffee) and 20 percent (cocoa). Much of the country’s total national labor force in the country involved in the production, processing and sale of these crops.

The World Bank said the PPAP aims to undertake a number of measures to support smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers, including: strengthening links between smallholder farmers and agricultural businesses.

The projects will also target increasing access to farming technologies and services; improving coordination of agricultural institutions; providing critical infrastructure for market access; and enabling the introduction of efficient and sustainable farming techniques.

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