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Historic High Cocoa Prices Benefit Growers, Including Papua New Guinea

 Cocoa growers worldwide, including those in Papua New Guinea, are reaping the rewards of historic high prices driven by dwindling supply attributed to climate change, as confirmed by local and overseas reports.

According to the PNG Cocoa Board, the country is witnessing record-breaking cocoa prices, with the highest recorded price now standing at K1,760 per 63.5kg bag, paid in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Chief Executive Officer Jesse Anjen revealed that approximately 200,000 households, totaling around two million individuals, are engaged in cocoa cultivation across the nation.

"Last week and this week, cocoa prices averaged at around K1,500 per 63.5kg bag, but the trend is continuing," stated Anjen. "We have 18 cocoa exporters, including a manufacturer and a cocoa micro-lot exporter."

Anjen further noted that cocoa farmers are benefiting from the current high prices, with reports indicating that this trend is expected to persist until the end of 2024 when West African cocoa production is projected to recover.

Traditionally, West African nations such as Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, and Nigeria have been major global cocoa producers. However, reports indicate a gradual decline in supply due to persistent dry temperatures and extreme wind conditions, leading to steady price increases elsewhere, including Papua New Guinea.

Ron Neville, Managing Director of cocoa exporter Elliven, highlighted that the shortage in West African cocoa production presented a lucrative opportunity for the PNG industry. He emphasized that this diminishing supply had brought approximately a million metric tonnes of processing capacity directly to the country.

Local cocoa farmers echoed the sentiment, confirming the positive impact of high cocoa prices on their livelihoods. Julius Bini from Morobe's Markham and Blaise Nurvue from East New Britain's Gazelle attested to receiving K1,500 per bag (64kg) at local depots, a significant increase from previous years.

"We brought in six bags and went away with more than K9,000," expressed Bini, highlighting the substantial boost in earnings compared to previous years.

Providing insight into the industry's economic contribution, Anjen stated, "For the past decades, cocoa prices have averaged K300 million annually in revenue generation. For the year 2023, cocoa exports revenue totaled K418 million, 33 per cent higher or K100 million more than the previous year."

The surge in cocoa prices not only signifies a boon for cocoa growers but also underscores the resilience of Papua New Guinea's cocoa industry amid global challenges. As the trend continues, stakeholders anticipate further growth and prosperity for the sector in the coming years.

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