Training initiatives improve capacity of local coffee producer

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Monday, February 26 2018

Sirigine Coffee Producers is located in Chimbu Province in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

Company founder, Paul Sirigine, started out as a smallholder coffee farmer in the 1990s, supplying coffee to local exporters including Monpi, Outspan PNG and New Guinea Highlands.

The company has been working in partnership with coffee-growing communities in the Bomai regions of the province and has established strong farmer networks. Sirigine Coffee Producers has since moved into roasting coffee for the domestic and international markets, and today exports single-origin premium coffee under the Bomai Coffee brand.

Samuel Raffana of Sirigine Coffee with the company’s premium Bomai Coffee. PC: Samantha Rina

In 2016, Sirigine Coffee Producers participated in the Coffee Cupping Competition which provided much-needed exposure for PNG coffee farmers and co-operatives to international buyers. The company was also one of five companies selected to participate in a coffee roasters training in Wolff College of Coffee in Brisbane, Australia in 2017. Both events received funding support from the PHAMA Program.

Samuel Raffana, who operates the business with his wife, says the exposure to both events made a significant difference for Sirigine Coffee Producers.

“Before, we used to produce one to two cartons of roasted coffee per month. Production depends on the orders we receive from our clients. After the roasters training, we have been producing 10-15 cartons per month,” he said.

One carton contains 40 x 250gram packs of coffee. Samuel says it takes a bag (60kg) of green beans to produce 4 cartons of roasted coffee.

He says the company has now taken a keen interest in marketing their brand after realising the demand that exists for premium coffee. He said the training had provided an opportunity for the company to explore new ideas.

“We have produced branded cups of different sizes for coffee shops and our clients. We have produced coffee sachets and now we are getting an IT person to do up our website,” he said.

Samuel says the most significant benefit for the company has been the increase in its client base for roasted coffee.

“In 2016, we didn’t have many (roasted coffee) clients, maybe about 4. But after the training, we now have 49 new clients for roasted coffee,” he said.

As a result of the cupping experience, Samuel says they can now rate the coffee they purchase to determine the best quality for green bean exports and roasting.

Samuel says the capacity-building initiatives by PHAMA have encouraged local coffee producers like Sirigine to pursue value-adding and enter the specialty coffee market.

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