FAO in Papua New Guinea

FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG provides technical assistance to 1,418 cocoa and vanilla lead farmers in 9 remote villages in Sandaun Province, who will further train 14,000 farmers

Mr Nanda Siri, the FAO EU-STREIT PNG Vanilla Officer trains the participants on how to pollinate vanilla flower efficiently in Green River Station in Sandaun Province.

EU-STREIT PNG to rehabilitate old cocoa trees, including those affected by cocoa pod borer (CPB) pest, conducted 6 cocoa bud grafting and block management trainings for 1,061 lead farmers in Aitape East and West LLGs, and equipped 357 lead farmers with a new vanilla pollination technique in 6 villages in remote area.

Wewak, ESP – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in line with its mission and objectives of the EU-STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea, conducted 12 trainings for farmers in Sandaun Province who are earning a life from coca and vanilla.

With focuses on transferring the important knowledge, techniques and skills and  enhancing and institutionalizing the extension service at community level, the Technical Assistance mission delivered Training of Trainers (ToTs) to 1,418 cocoa and vanilla lead farmers in 9 remote villages in the Province. It included transferring  advance knowledge, techniques and skills in cocoa propagation and the integrated pest and disease management to 1061 lead farmers. The mission also equipped 357 vanilla lead farmers with the requisite knowledge and the efficient techniques in vanilla cultivation, husbandry, harvesting and processing.

These ToTs have also enabled the participants to act as Trainers in their vicinity and to impart the acquired knowledge, skills and techniques to over 14,000 farmers in the Sepik Region. 

“In collaboration with Cocoa Board and Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) officers in Aitape-Lumi District, we were able to select the farmers from 100 plus cluster groups including women and youth to attend as potential trainers for the follow-up trainings. The participants will practice in their blocks, and in the process will train at least 10 others in their community, so this important life skill is shared with others,” explained by the National Cocoa Production Officer, Michael Lames, who facilitated these capacity building trainings.

Bud grafting or cocoa propagation is the latest innovation in cocoa farming that EU-STREIT PNG is promoting, along with the distribution of 18 CPB tolerant species – recommended by the national Cocoa Board – among rural communities in the Greater Sepik Region. This targeted training enables the farmers to replace and rehabilitate old cocoa trees affected by the cocoa bod borer (CPB) pest – resulting in low production and loss in income for thousands of rural families.

For many farmers, it was their first time to acquire new knowledge and skills to improve their cocoa blocks. “My brothers and I want to replace CPB affected cocoa trees with cloned ones that will give us more pods and money after  2-3 years, so I’m excited,” said Rosa Albert, who was among the 75 women out of 150 participants of the two-day training in Poro.

The training at Poro also covered cocoa block management for additional two days, and Awareh Trade Ltd, in collaboration with EU-STREIT PNG, commenced distribution of CPB tolerant seedlings.    

A farmer received 50 seedlings for rehabilitation of old blocks and 306 each for demonstration blocks. The first recipient was a 28-year-old female farmer, Anita Moipo. “I heard of EU-STREIT PNG coming and have organised some boys to clean our old cocoa block. I’m excited to replace the old trees with these new seedlings. With more cocoa pods and an increase in income, I want to build a house for my mother,” said Anita.   

Two similar trainings on Cocoa Block Management were conducted in Ulau and Suian villages, respectively. A total of 300 farmers, including 135 women and 23 youths, from 100 plus cluster groups attended the three trainings, which include theory and practical demonstration on pruning methods and the timing to apply them to the cocoa block. 

Meanwhile, a recent vanilla mission into Vanimo Green District of Sandaun Province, with the assistance of Sandaun Provincial and Vanimo Green District DAL, reached out to 357 vanilla farmers from 60 plus cluster groups in the rural villages of Amanab Bewani Wutung Onei, Green River and Walsa LLGs.

The farmers were shown the simplest and the most proper vanilla pollination techniques as well as appropriate knowledge and techniques of vanilla cultivation, husbandry and processing (curing).

It was a privilege for the rural farmers to take part in formal training. Many are self-taught and have been cultivating and processing their beans based on field experiences and self-evaluation.

“We are here to fill in the knowledge gaps you have in the production process and will guide and work closely with you to produce sufficient quantity with the best quality,” the National Vanilla Production Officer, Nanda Siri, told a group of farmers during a session in rural Vanimo.

The simple pollination technique shared with the farmers is by lifting the rostellum, which acts as a shield between the stamen and stigma, and by pressing the stamen with the thumb gently down to the stigma for a successful pollination.

“The advantage of this method is the speed and accuracy to pollinate all vanilla flowers in the morning between 6:30 am to 10:30 am,” explained Mr Siri.

The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a UN joint Programme (FAO as leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region, which focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through Increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.

Media Contact: 
Amir Khaleghiyan, 
International Reporting and Communication Specialist, the FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG Programme, 
[email protected]