Talasea residents in West New Britain have celebrated the opening of the first of three PNG-Australia Partnership funded District Cocoa Resource Centres (CRC) built to revive the traditional cash crop devastated by a cocoa pod borer invasion in 2006.
The new facility includes a modern nursery, a model farm, fermenting bins, drying units and provision for a marketing centre and women and farmers’ accommodation.
Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis together with Governor of West New Britain Hon. Francis Maneke and senior PNG cabinet ministers attended the launch.
The new facilities, which were supported under the Talasea District’s new Five-Year Development Plan – also launched at the event – will strengthen local capacity and improve local farmers’ incomes by diversifying revenue opportunities beyond a reliance on oil palm.
Governor Maneke said: “We thank the Australian Government for partnering with us to unleash the potential of this region to enjoy a strong cocoa industry that creates jobs and opportunities for the next generation. Cocoa is a high value, inclusive crop where any family member – men, women and children- can pick cocoa pods and build their future.”
The Australian High Commissioner Bruce Davis applauded the vision of Governor Maneke and District Administrator Mapmani and said the project exemplified the strong Australia-PNG partnership to support PNG to grow a stronger inclusive economy nationwide.
“PNG is well positioned to supply the growing global cocoa market and we are delighted to support the PNG Government’s vision to grow the agricultural sector to enhance economic opportunities for all Papua New Guineans” said High Commissioner Davis.
The new facility was funded under the PNG-Australia Partnership through the Kina + Kina initiative which supports communities to develop local solutions to local problems.