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PNG Cocoa Farmers set to benefit from conclusion of agreement Process

Tens of thousands of Papua New Guinea cocoa-farmers look set to benefit as the result of a process that concluded at an event involving Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Rimbink Pato MP, at the United Nations this week.
The Minister presented to the UN the document confirming the ratification by the PNG Government of the International Cocoa Agreement, which has measures aimed at increasing financial returns to farmers.
Mr Pato, who is attending the 72nd UN General Assembly, said long and sustained efforts by the Government and the private sector enabled the completion of the agreement, which is aimed at assisting the cocoa industry to flourish.
"One of the key provisions of the agreement is to promote the capacity of local communities and small-scale farmers to benefit from cocoa production and so reduce poverty," Mr Pato said.
"This requires a transparent world cocoa economy which delivers fair prices and better economic returns to producers," he said.
"New cultivation methods and technologies, as well as pest control are also vital.
"Cocoa is an important export commodity that supports many families' lives and livelihoods particularly in rural communities in the coastal and islands region and also small-to-medium enterprises in our country, all deserving of the leadership and support of the Government.
"By ratifying this agreement, the O'Neill/Abel Government is showing its commitment not only to fulfil the provisions and international obligations of the agreement but more importantly, to provide a conducive environment to further harness and strengthen the opportunities for socio-economic and other benefits that cocoa brings to our people and country."
Cocoa is one of the four main cash crops in PNG. It contributes up to 17% of the nation's agriculture sector's revenue.
Most of the cocoa in PNG is produced by many thousands of farmers on small holdings in East New Britain, Bougainville, Madang, East Sepik, New Ireland, Oro and Morobe, with plantations making up the rest. The country produces up to 9 per cent of the world's fine flavour beans, highly sought after for luxury chocolate.
Production of cocoa has been steadily increasing due to the continuing recovery from the devastating cocoa pod borer, which led to a big drop in production between 2008-2012 in East New Britain, the country's main cocoa producing province. A thriving cocoa production could take advantage of a projected cocoa shortfall by 2020.
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