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  • Team ThinkAg

GRAFT Papua New Guinea: Solving real challenges in PNG cocoa – the opportunity for Indian AgTech


o In Papua New Guinea, cocoa farmers are smallholder farmers, who produce nearly 80 per cent of the cocoa – the average land holding is 0.5 hectares and the production 400-500 kg

o Smoke taint is a major issue confronting cocoa farmers in Papua New Guinea; it is caused by the drying technology that is used

o Most of the cocoa that is produced is affected by smoke taint problem, which affects their quality and which, in turn, reduces the economic returns

o High-end chocolate makers demand cocoa beans that do not have smoke taint

o Any solution must benefit smallholder farmers and be affordable to them

o Weather is a big issue in Papua New Guinea. Most parts get heavy rainfall and getting sunlight to dry cocoa is a big issue

o Solutions are available but they cost $30,000, which smallholder farmers cannot afford; ideally the cost should be $5,000-7,000

o MDF (Market Development Facility) supports businesses and other market players with technical advisory services, with selective infrastructure assistance, marketing promotion and regulatory reforms

o MDF will go and talk to a partner or business investor, do the due diligence, look at the supply chains that they develop

o MDF would partner them based on what they do and if there are issues that we can address, then we would enter into an independent agreement with the partners

o Our funding to the projects is grant, it could be in the ratio of 60:40, 70:30 and sometimes 50:50

o We can also bring in advisers from overseas

o Beanstalk, an innovation agency dedicated to unleashing the potential of agriculture, helps with innovative approaches to address some of the supply chain issues

o Processing of cocoa needs to be improved and the programme is looking for innovative solutions


o A ‘land and launch’ programme focussed on scaling AgTech solutions to solve pressing agriculture challenges in the smallholder value chain

o Helps agri-businesses and industry to look beyond their backyard; building a curated pipeline of innovation partners from around the world

o Helps innovators to land on their feet and keep running in new markets, providing both strategic and ‘boots on ground’ support

Why innovators should apply

o Fast-track trials and commercial partnerships with leading agribusinesses in Papua New Guinea

o Access curated market intelligence and advisory services to strengthen your service offering

o Build strategic relationships with vetted service providers and operational partners

o Follow-on opportunity for funding and support to scale

o Strengthen visibility and reputation of solutions with commercial agribusinesses and investors

o Just opened open call and campaign for solutions

o Papua New Guinea is 1-2 per cent of global cocoa supply; it is not the largest player, however it is regarded as a market producing high quality cocoa

o Around 100,000 smallholder farmers working on cocoa for their livelihood

o Have three committed industry partners which can help understand the challenges in the supply chain

Snapshot of the GRAFT programme to date

o 50+ industry partners supported

o Over $110 million capital raised by alumni

o Eight tech trials facilitated

o More than three million online views of programme-driven media

o 14 innovators supported

o Four global markets

What lies ahead

o Source solutions from December 2022 to February 2023

 Develop campaign to attract and engage local and global innovators

 Virtual showcases with industry partners to drive heightened challenge awareness

 Diligence of selected solution providers alongside industry partners

o Implement and trial – February-May 2023

 PNG bootcamp and mentor-matching for solution providers

 Trial design support via facilitated workshops and intensive support

 On-site visit with focus on preparation for/implementation of technical trials

The challenge in focus

o Improve the viability of wood-free alternative heat generators to power community-scale driers

o Reduce the cost of repair and maintenance for kiln and flue pipes in conventional small-scale cocoa

o Preserve cocoa quality by reducing wet beans’ exposure to indirect smoke

o These challenges are supported by three industry partners – PNG Agriculture Company, Paradise Foods and Outspan

Innovator showcase

o BMH Transmotion has developed on-farm processing machinery – fresh mucilage covered cocoa beans undergo heat-generating microbial fermentation followed by natural or artificial drying

o Primary processing of cocoa activates and accentuates the taste and aroma compounds which underpin and define consumer acceptance and market value

o With the storage developed by BMH Transmotion, cocoa can be stored safely for a long period with negligible quality and quantity loss

o Storage system ensures long life and that the beans are not damaged

o InfyU Labs has developed a hand-held IoT device that can detect internal quality of fruits and vegetables without having to cut them

o For cocoa, the technology can be used to know the moisture, temperature, how long the cocoa beans were stored and the temperature at different nodes on the supply chain

o The engineering division of SV Agri Processing can come up with an equipment that uses waste cocoa shells to generate heat energy to operate electricity-based ovens that can dry the cocoa beans in a controlled environment, which ensures that the beans are not contaminated

o By-product of this process, cocoa shell ash can be used as an alkalysing agent for cocoa

o Using this technology can bring down the time taken to dry cocoa from many days to a few hours

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