27 Sep 2016

Illegal cherry-coffee trade in PNG affecting quality

6:31 pm on 27 September 2016

Illegal trading of cherry coffee in Papua New Guinea is said to be affecting the quality of coffee in the country.

A woman sun drying coffee in Sakanuga village, Unggai Bena district of Eastern Highlands Province, PNG.

A woman sun drying coffee beans in Sakanuga village, Unggai Bena district of Eastern Highlands Province, PNG. Photo: Courtesy of PNG Coffee Industry Corporation

The practice also known as freelance trading refers to the sale of fresh coffee cherries, which are usually stolen, by uncertified parties in PNG.

Some of the larger coffee producers lose up to 50 percent of their total produce through theft annually.

The practice was made illegal in 2008 by the national regulator Coffee Industry Corporation Ltd with fines of up to 5000 kina ($1500 USD) for repeat offenders.

Industry, regulations and compliance manager at the CIC, Michael Waim said while the measure has seen a reduction in the practice, there it is still a big problem.

Mr Waim said at first the regulator's primary concern was reducing losses to farmers but more recently it has found the practice is also affecting the quality of PNG coffee.

"When a certified registered entity buys the coffee it takes it back to the processing mill. Then they have their distinct processing system where it does all the quality checks before the coffee can be processed," he said.

"But anybody going into the coffee garden to pick up the coffee they do not care about the kind of coffee that is picked because all they want is they want fast money. So they can pick anything into the bags or drums and they can go and sell it that is where quality also becomes a problem."