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***aCe***
05-01-2004, 04:32 PM
By JAMES KILA

A MICRO-credit scheme for the coffee sector is doing wonders for many small farmers in Papua New Guinea.

The scheme is originally the brain-child of Joe Imbo Ulka, a former extension manager and advisor to a former Highlands fire-brand politician late Sir Iambakey Okuk.
Mr Ulka developed the scheme in the Chimbu province then expanded it to Eastern Highlands when he was employed as a consultant to assist in the coffee industry.

It was his proposal that convinced the national government in 1995 to later inject funds to create the Smallholders Agriculture Credit Scheme (SACS). An initial capital of K10 million, was used to set up a revolving fund with Rural Development Bank.

Mr Ulka explained that the coffee sector was given K2.8 million initially to assist rehabilitation of smallholders coffee in all coffee growing provinces. The schme is called the Coffee Credit Guarantee Scheme (CCGS) and is managed by the Coffe Industry Corporation and the Rural Development Bank

“This scheme home-ground, simple and takes into consideration the Melanesian context of assisting people in financial needs,” said Mr Ulka He made the remarks recently when speaking to credit farmers in the Western Highlands province.

Notably, in the Western Highlands Province CCGS is able to assist 144 farmers for a total value of K796,825.00 which represents 21.1% of the total lending portfolio of K3.77 million. Total area funded in the WHP for the 144 farmers is 341.67 hectares which will produce an estimate of 342 tonnes of green bean per year or 5700 x 60 kg bags to export in 19 containers.

The responses from the farmers have been very good, and the demand is very high but lack of sufficient funds for lending as well as meeting the costs of operations. It is the anticipation of the CCGS that both Western Highlands Provincial Government and National Government should support the scheme as it is directly benefiting the rural people by reducing rural poverty.


Some of the comments made by the beneficiaries are recorded here for information. “Bank policies in PNG has no room for grass roots but with SACS scheme coffee farmers have the privilege now to obtain loans directly from the bank without conventional security,” said loan farmer Paul Appa.

“The scheme truly belongs to the coffee farmers and the farmers who have had access to the loan must learn to look after the scheme very well by making repayments on time,” comments Patty Kingal, a loan farmer in the schme

“RDB can give loans above K10,000.00 under its direct loan called conventional loans if farmer has proven the ability. Conventional loan is what the bank will consider to fund amount in access of K10,000.00 and this kind of opportunity is only for CIC.

The RDB branch manager Kundiawa, John Manga said the kind of approach is very good that CIC and RDB must maintain this kind of dialogue at all times to ensure arrears is minimized
A farmer from remote Jimi area of Western Highlands, Lawrence Paro says: “CIC has successfully implemented the credit scheme which I have just learnt today that CIC is doing a very good job in assisting and addressing the real need of its coffee growers in the remote location such as Jimi. I am pleased and so excited to learn this today.,”

North Whagi Loan farmer Gabriel Kombugl has this to say: “As a Christian, I thank God for this wonderful scheme. It really helps me and my family in improving our living standard and I feel very special in my life today than being an ordinary grower in the past,” he said.

A councilor in Banz, Kupul Clement during a CCGS course conducted at Banz said:“Sitting down and listening to this training, I recall my ancestors’ initiation in the Haus man in the traditional days. I feel that farmers here will not ask any questions because your training does not provide for questionnaires but for loan farmers to absorb and go and repay the loans by selling pigs or what have they to ensure this scheme sustains if coffee is not yielding enough. The farmers who have benefited from the scheme should not excused themselves from making loan repayments.

The following is a comment from Councillor Kamanor from Jimi: “With CCGS I now after so many years of growing (30-40 yrs) coffee learn that the coffee tree that I have on my customary land has served my country Papua New Guinea and not only my family as I use to think and I am very happy. I should have known that when I was a very young man so that I could plant more coffee trees at that time”

Ends…../

Joe Imbo Ulka speaks to loan farmers in Western Highlands