Farmers from Kunua District in North Bougainville are the proud recipients of new tools and equipment to increase cocoa bean production and household income.
Presented to Queerie Economic Unit in Puto village, Mahari Constituency recently, the tools include wheelbarrows,fertiliser, chainsaws, secateurs, bow saws, pole pruners and a tractor.
Queerie farmer Steven Hetsi said he was grateful for the tools, which will make cocoa farming easier.
“In the past we used bush knives to work in the farms. With the new tools there will be a big change to generate sufficient income that can support me and my family,” Mr Hetsi said.
Queerie Economic Unit is made up of 50 farmers who were awarded a 380,000 Kina grant in June 2018. The funds are issued to cocoa farmer groups to boost cocoa production through farmer training,equipment provision and farm management support.
Another cocoa farmer Rufina Panume said the farming tools will assist in protecting plants from pests and improve cocoa bean production for the benefit of her family.
“For me as a mother, the cocoa farm income generation will assist me in paying for school fees, medicines and to support my family and community.”
Queerie Economic Unit is one of 25 cocoa farming groups who have received support from the Australian Government in partnership with the Autonomous Bougainville Government. Launched in March 2016, the grants scheme has assisted over 1,300 farmers and aims to increase cocoa production,improve cocoa quality and provide access to better markets for Bougainvillean farmers.