UK company to fund major cocoa farm
BY MELISHA YAFOI
UNITED KINGDOM based global cocoa production company Beans & Co is eyeing Papua New Guinea as a lucrative cocoa producing destination.
Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry Richard Maru said the company will receive support from the UK government through the UK Import Export bank to invest US$70 million (K4.8m) in the development of a 2500 hectare cocoa plantation project in the Sepik Special Economic Zone (SSEZ).
This will be the biggest cocoa plantation in this country.
Mr Maru stated that after the conclusion of this loan deal and the National Executive Council’s approval of the project, the ministry is expecting Beans & Co to establish a base in the Sepik and will start a very big cocoa nursery or seed garden to supply cocoa seedlings not only to their own plantation but also to the East and West Sepik Provinces.
He explained that this cocoa company uses a new cocoa technology called the Griffin technology which they apply on the strictest environmental standards where they operate.
He said the same technology will be used in SSEZ which will be able to attract premium prices for cocoa that they will produce in the Sepik or between 20 per cent and 30 per cent more than what the others can offer for cocoa.
“If they bring new technology and operate, our farmers can also home sale their cocoa to this company.
“In the long term our plan is to develop a cocoa chocolate factory in the Sepik…we are looking to transform the industry in PNG.
“We are extremely excited and are very thankful to the Import Export bank of the UK for agreeing to lend this money so that this project can be developed in PNG,” he said.
However, the minister said that he understood that this will be the first loan that the UK Import Export Bank will fund an endeavor of the sort in PNG.
The minister emphasized that currently the country borrows from the Chinese EXIM Bank and are very keen as a government to diversify its source of funding and are now very keen on moving to the UK.
“This is a very new agricultural project and we hope that this will be the start of a new relationship with the Import Export Bank of the UK.
“We are looking forward to concluding the loan deal and NEC approving this project so that we can commence this major cocoa project in the Sepik plains as soon as possible,” he said.