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PORT MORESBY, 16 MARCH 2017 (POST COURIER)--About K50 million (US$15.7 million) will be required to address the coffee berry borer issue, says Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tomscoll.
Tomscoll said in response to questions put to him at a news conference he convened in Port Moresby to announce that the borer pest posed a major threat to the multi-million kina industry.
He was flanked by Agriculture and Livestock Secretary Dr Pat Ila’ava, Coffee Industry Corporation chief executive officer Charles Dambui, National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority managing director Joel Alu and senior executives of these organisations.
Tomscoll said the initial budget estimates presented for an eradication and containment exercise was between K50 million and K100 million (US$31.5 million) – money which neither the department, CIC nor NAQIA had.
He said that the three stakeholders would depend on the National Government to finance and contain the spread of coffee berry borer – CBB – which was first detected in Banz, Jiwaka Province, on February 21 and had also been reported in Eastern Highlands Province.
In saying this, he defended the funding levels stating that apart from the extractive industry, the coffee industry was among the biggest revenue earner accounting for a yearly average of K500 million (US$157.8 million) in foreign exchange which had been increasing gradually.
“In 2016 the industry generated K650 million with 70 to 80 per cent of this income spread to all the farmers across the country. It is in the best interest of the Government to protect this industry,” Tomscoll said.
He said what the industry was asking for, was just a small portion but would go a long way in protecting this industry.
“The coffee berry borer can destroy 40 per cent of volumes and consequently see PNG lose between K200 million (US$61 million) and K300 million (US$92 million) in foreign exchange,” he said.
When asked if the government had money for this exercise, he said this was a question for Treasury to answer.
Reporters were told that work on a delimiting survey had already started in Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands Provinces where the CBB have been detected.
Tomscoll said the survey was aimed at assisting authorities understand the extent of the spread of this pest which originated from Africa.
“The pre-action is critical as it then helps us to determine our scale of response, the method and the amount of resource including funding that would be required to manage, contain and eradicate this pest,” Tomscoll said.
Alu had confirmed start of work and from funds sourced internally, but added that it is not enough and that it would likely run out within the next couple of days.
Tomscoll has assured that the Government is responsible and has already embarked on efforts to address the coffee berry borer (CBB).
Tomscoll confirmed sightings of the pest in both Jiwaka and the Eastern Highlands Provinces which has been reported to the Coffee Industry Corporation.
He said initial tests had been conducted at the Aiyura Coffee Research Centre proving positive and later validated by tests in the United States of America.
He said previously the CBB was found in Yapsie in the Teleformin district in 2009, but authorities had been able to eradicate it due to the remoteness of the area, the low activity and density of the population.
He said authorities had known the pest to be present on the Indonesian side of the border for almost a decade and its spread was imminent, the question all this time had been when.
CIC chief executive officer Charles Dambui said authorities had yet to verify how it got into the country, although they have reason to believe its entry had been from seedlings brought in by a coffee firm.
He said through DNA traces which are being carried out, authorities should be able to identify where the pest originated from.
“Definitely the seedlings would have come in under the radar,” Dambui said.
However, he assured that the industry along with the National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) had the capacity to immediately deal with the issue as there had been other bio-security risks that they had dealt with in the past including the coffee leaf rust.
Tomscoll announced he has invoked the necessary legislative powers.
*Trade and movement of coffee beans will be subject to inspections and cannot be transported into areas outside the restricted zones without certification;
*Establishment of quarantine posts along the highway will see the travelling public and vehicles being subjected to searches; and
*All exportable coffee also be scrutinised, hence exporters required to comply with requirements.
“All coffee growing countries including PNG is infested with CBB, except Nepal. Countries previously infected with CBB have adapted and mitigated forward without destroying their coffee industry, and PNG will do exactly the same,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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