New coffee! Papua New Guinea beans are being roasted in our Medford roastery and cafe today.
Papua New Guinea Coffee Production History
Coffee production in the country dates back to 1926/1927 when the first Jamaican Blue Mountain seeds were planted.However, the Coffee Research Institute claims that coffee was introduced to British Papua in 1890, although it is widely accepted that commercial production only took off in the country in the late 1920s. In Sangara, Papua New Guinea in the foothills in the southeast of the country,18 commercial coffee plantations were established in 1926, paving the way for commercial production from 1928. Louis Austen, a retired sea-captain, once managed a government coffee plantation near Sangara.
In the 1960s, the infrastructure developed significantly in Papua New Guinea which facilitated a marked growth in the industry, easing the transportation of coffee beans from the plantations to the mills to be processed and exported. The coffee industry in Papua New Guinea thrived in the 1970s, benefiting from a slump in the production in Brazil on the international market because of problems with frosts. However, in the 1980s, coffee plantation production has declined in Papua New Guinea and has decentralized towards localised small coffee farmers who are now accountable for over 85% of total national production. The coffee boom in the 1980s profoundly affected many of the coffee plantation owners and amounted debts they could not pay off, with the result that many were made redundant. From 1986, a number of cases of coffee rust, caused by Hemileia vastatrix, also affected some parts of Papua New Guinea which had previously been free of the disease.
The coffee industry in Papua New Guinea reached a peak in 1998 when it was responsible for some 38% of the country's non-mineral exports and 13% of total exports. Between 1995 and 1998 coffee production contributed to 42 per cent of the revenue of country's total agricultural exports.Since then the industry has rapidly declined, affected by a world depression in coffee prices with prices falling up to 60%. As a result, production slumped by 23% in 2000 and remained stagnant in 2001.
A contemporary problem facing the industry is poor infrastructure and frequent hi-jacking by bandits which is severe in Papua New Guinea, with some of the larger coffee producers losing some 50% of their total produce through theft annually. This is an issue of law and order that is creating loss of revenue to the producers through unchecked theft, which is attributed to the inadequate opportunities for the youth of the country to get suitable avenues for education and, more importantly, getting jobs after schooling. Increased annual production by other competing countries in the world market is also affecting the contemporary industry in Papua New Guinea. In 2009, coffee was reported to be responsible for 18.5% of the country's agricultural exports and just 4.7% of total export revenue, a dramatic fall since the 1990s. In recent years, coordination between the private and public sectors have increased as has a movement towards a greater sustainability with improved soil nutrition management and retention and education of farmers in prolonging the agricultural productivity of their land.