|Neknasi coffee farmer, Halimbi Gim|
Another cooperative in the Nawaeb District of the Morobe Province is working to develop fresh food supply chain starting with farmers in the Wain-Erap Local Level Government area.
Kasuka is following in the footsteps of Neknasi – a coffee cooperative that is close to building its own coffee processing mill.
The villages who make up the Kasuka fresh food cooperative are tucked away in the mountains of the Wain Erap LLG. Although this place can supply Lae with a relatively large amount of food to Lae and the rest of PNG, road access and transportation have always been a major obstacle to their success.
A team of volunteers led by Pandi Nogatu have been working on developing a cooperative based fresh food supply chain. It has been a long journey.
“Roads are the biggest obstacle,” Says Nogatu. “our food goes bad just because we wait for too long.”
The group experimented with rice, corn and other vegetables. They’ve been slowly finding their way. With increased government funding to the districts, the Nawaeb administration has been able to buy the cooperative a new vehicle.
This will cut down on transport costs and the time it usually takes to get from the inner reaches of the Wain Erap area to Lae City.
Nawaeb MP, Gisuat Siniwin whose village also has limited road access says the cooperatives will sell fruit and vegetables to big clients like mining companies.
“We’ve advised the people to develop a corporative out of what they already have.”
Kasuka cooperative is learning from another example – the Neknasi Coffee cooperative featured last year on EMTV’s Tok Piksa program.
Working closely with Fairtrade International, Neknasi will soon get certification as an organic coffee grower. Michael Toliman who provides advice to Neknasi says cooperatives need to be encouraged because they empower Papua New Guineans.
“In order to sell large volumes, you need a steady supply. Cooperatives are very important.”
Neknasi and Kasuka will be building a coffee mill and a fresh food depot in Erap. Nekasi has the aim of becoming a leader in coffee exports out of Morobe and Kasuka aims to become the leading fresh food depot in Morobe.