26 November 2020, Port Moresby/Rome - As part of efforts to support smallholder farmers and create more inclusive agri-food value chains in Papua New Guinea, FAO implementing the European Union co-funded STREIT programme, has engaged the local private sector, partnering with Paradise Foods Ltd., the country's oldest national food manufacturing company.
The new Memorandum of Understanding agreement signed today aims to promote more inclusive and sustainable cocoa production value chains and create income generation opportunities for smallholder farmers, through quality improvement, better market access and the development of product certification schemes.
"Engaging with the local private sector and linking them effectively with smallholders is a key part of the long terms sustainable development of the cocoa value chain. We look forward to having more partners on board; we have already reached over 10,000 smallholder beneficiaries, and this number will dramatically increase in 2021" said Ken Shimizu, FAO Programme Officer, Papua New Guinea.
James Rice, Group Chief Executive Officer of Paradise Foods Ltd, welcomed the agreement. "This kind of collaboration reflects our long-term commitment to investing in sustainable smallholder-based cocoa production and processing in Papua New Guinea," he said.
"The European Union co-funded STREIT programme will support local MSMEs for sustainable and inclusive cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains development. In line with the Government Cocoa Strategy, we welcome this engagement with Paradise Foods and look forward to more local agripreneurs, enterprises and farmers benefitting from the programme," said Jernej Videtič, EU Ambassador, Papua New Guinea.
Cocoa is one of the country's most important cash crops and is mostly produced by smallholder farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihoods. Paradise Foods is the only company in Papua New Guinea that processes cocoa into a semi-finished product while also manufacturing fine chocolates for both national and export markets. The company is committed to using exclusively smallholder-sourced raw materials, which supports inclusive agricultural and cocoa value chain development in the country.
The partnership will support rural poverty reduction efforts and contribute to achieving the objectives of the European Union project (STREIT PNG), the EU's largest financial contribution to projects in the Pacific region. FAO is the lead implementing agency for STREIT and coordinates the work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The STREIT project also aims to improve sustainable and inclusive economic development and job creation, with a specific focus on women, youth and climate change adaptation.
More specifically, the new partnership, which is in line with FAO's Hand-in-Hand Initiative, will strengthen the private sector's engagement with local cocoa producers, and facilitate greater participation of smallholders, traders and their organizations in the cocoa supply chain. The collaboration will focus initially on the East and West Sepik provinces of Papua New Guinea, where FAO and Paradise Foods, Ltd. will, through the provision of expertise, jointly support the development of relevant certification schemes for smallholder producers of cocoa. Improved quality and standardized certification will help to increase the long-term marketability of local cocoa products and improve income generation for small-holders.