A SYDNEY-based company is looking to provide a better deal for Papua New Guinea coffee farmers, and hopes to develop markets for PNG coffee in Australia, the US and China.
But to do that, says principal Pana Wiya, he needs a capital backer.
Coffee growers earn only 2-5% of the retail price of coffee in supermarkets, or about K2.40 kilogram, and that’s unjust, says Mr Wiya, the owner of Sydney-based Village Coffee.
“It’s unjust because they do 90% of the labour and use their most fertile land to produce the beans. We aim to increase that income to about 30-35%,” he told Business Advantage PNG.
Village Coffee is located in the Sydney suburb of Padstow. So far Mr Wiya has imported 15 tonnes of beans from the Morobe and Eastern Highlands provinces.
Wiya has lived and worked in Sydney for 25 years, mainly in retail. He started Village Coffee when he realised that local growers receive a tiny fraction of the price of roasted coffee.
He has just purchased a 5kg roaster and is roasting on average 50 kg of coffee a week, which is packaged into 250g, 500g and 1kg bags. He sells directly to the public via his website.
“We’ve also been researching the US market and have registered our three brands with Integral Trade, a certification organisation similar to Fair Trade and the Rainforest Alliance.”
It is early days. At the moment, he sources the beans from PNG exporters but he says if he can obtain capital to process and market the beans, he wants farmers to set up their own co-operatives. He would then buy directly from them.
In addition to Australia, Village Coffee has participated in two coffee expos in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
“The Chinese market is an especially challenging one, but it offers vast and exciting potential.
“We’ve also been researching the US market and have registered our three brands with Integral Trade, a certification organisation similar to Fair Trade and the Rainforest Alliance, but which charges farmers and growers nothing to join.
“As well as the Village Coffee label for Australia, we’ve also developed Tenkyu Coffee and Kokoda Coffee labels for the US market,” he said.
Mr Wiya set up his business four years ago. He is now seeking capital backing to expand his wholesale operations.
He aims to return K10 per kilo to growers and an extra K2.50 would be lodged in a superannuation fund.
“Our initial estimates are that it would take two years before growers will see the sorts of benefits I’m talking about.
“This concept is not about maximising profits at the expense of lowly paid growers. Rather, it is to give them a fair share and to ensure their sustainability. The world of greed and money, and using other people for self-gain, has to change.”