PNG Konkua Organic
Sweet, dark berries, orange, cinnamon
The Konkua Organic Certified smallholder group is made up of coffee growing communities from two districts of the Eastern Highlands Province; Konkua Okipa in Kainantu District and Arau in Obura Wonenara. Originally the Organic Certified smallholder group was formed by Konkua Okipa Farmers. In course of the group’s expansion due to its success, the neighbouring Arau village has joined this program.
The closest urban hub is the township of Kainantu. Pre-PNG independence Kainantu was a busy coffee centre for many plantation operators and coffee entrepreneurs. The area marks one of the earliest commercial coffee plantings in PNG. In its hay days Kainantu had its own airstrip and golf club. Today it is still a major coffee trade post for a large number of communities and entrepreneurs active in the coffee industry.
With high quality and consistent deliveries the group was taken on board the Organic Certification program as a Plantation Quality supplier of Certified Organic. The Konkua network of small holder suppliers can be reached with a two hour drive from Goroka. The neighbouring Arau farmers community is further inland and requires some additional travelling time and is a challenging 4×4 off-road excursion.
The group currently represents 137 farmers with 313 ha of planted coffee and Konkua won PNG’s national cupping competition in 2015.
Typica, Arusha and Mundu Novo varieties are shade-grown on the mountainous terrains and rich volcanic soil of this region. Ripe cherries are handpicked and pulped on site the same day using small hand pulpers before the wet parchment is fermented. Fermentation time averages from 36-48 hours and is usually done is small vats and bags. Fresh clean water from various creeks is sourced to complete the fully washed process of this exceptional coffee. The parchment is dried on a mixture of raised beds and tarps, with the aim of 100% raised beds in the near future.
Most coffee growers in this network are smallholder subsistence farmers. Coffee is the main cash generating activity for most and tends to be grown inter-cropped with other garden produce such as Banana, Pandanus, a variety of edible greens and vegetables. Competing with coffee as cash generating activity would be the small-scale commercial production of vegetables or fruits to sell at local markets. Food gardens for a household’s own needs remain a priority focus of a subsistence farm of course. Small surplus volumes will be sold on local market.
Recently, the first well-ventilated solar dryers have been commissioned for even better drying practices. Dry parchment is stored in bush huts until sufficient volume is collected to transport (and sell) the parchment to the network’s central collection depot near the Highway.