Papua New Guinea creates new Minister for Coffee post

James Marape, the new prime minister of Papa New Guinea, has created a new position of the Minister for Coffee to help the industry grow, with a focus on international exports as a way of bringing money into the country, which currently has around 85.7% of the population living in poverty.

The new Minister for Coffee is Joe Kuli, from Anglimp-South Waghi, in the central highlands region of Papa New Guinea. Kuli is the first ever person to hold the title of Minister for Coffee, not just in PNG, but across the world.

Kuli himself comes from the Waghi Valley, Jiwaka. The Waghi Valley used to be a huge coffee plantation, but which was abandoned and is now completely covered in bush.

Prime Minister Marape, on announcing Kuli’s new position, said, “Minister Kuli’s focus will be coffee, coffee and coffee. I want to drink coffee made in Goroka, Mt Hagen, Lae and other parts of the country. I want to see more coffee grown for export to the lucrative markets of the world.”

Coffee is the country’s second largest export, after palm oil, responsible for around 6% of the country’s GDP. Approximately a quarter of the population work on coffee plantations or run their own small coffee farms.

It’s also widely reported that, due to coffee’s value in an extremely poor country, there are regular instances of shipment hijackings, which can cause both large and small growers to lose up to half of their stock grown for export.

Over the last ten years, PNG’s commitment to exporting coffee has continued to expand, with government policies around soil quality, improved infrastructure and the education of farms all helping to make a real impact on the value and quality of Papa New Guinean coffee beans. Today, New Guinean beans can be found in everything from artisanal coffee shops to Nespresso Pods.

Papa New Guinea’s new minister for coffee is being welcomed by the country’s coffee growers and producers, in addition to international coffee providers. In recent years, Papa New Guinea’s coffee production has gone through turbulent changes, with some larger plantations being abandoned. Instead, more and more of the country’s coffee beans have been coming from smaller, independent farms which are struggling to meet an ever-growing demand.

“In our opinion,” said Rob Hodge, a director at United Kingdom-based Rave Coffee, “the announcement is great news for anyone who enjoys high-quality coffee. Papa New Guinea’s climate is perfect for growing famously well-rounded and smooth coffee beans, which can be made into absolutely stunning coffees. Today, Papa New Guinea coffee is already enjoyed around the world, and we’re extremely excited to see the country commit to increasing production, focusing on quality and helping to spread its incredible coffee flavours across the world.”

Papa New Guinea’s coffee beans are extremely popular in the United States, Australia, the UK and elsewhere in the world. They can be found in a wide range of products, from coffee subscriptions to simple flat whites you might enjoy in artisan coffee shops.

Hodge added that Papa New Guinea’s coffee industry is a great mixture of smaller farms and larger plantations. “While the larger plantations create great-tasting, simple coffees, the smaller producers typically create coffee beans with a more wild, temperamental flavour,” he said. “At Rave, we’ve been pushing PNG coffee beans for the last decade, and we’re extremely excited to introduce more beans originating from Papa New Guinea in our products.”

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