Papua New Guinea has a brand new minister job
Prime Minister James Marape, sworn in this month after an election marred by violence, delays and allegations of fraud, announced on Tuesday a new cabinet that would include the two roles in what he said was a “targeted approach” to grow the economy.
Coffee and palm oil are the country’s top two agricultural exports.
Joe Kuli, a former vice minister for commerce and industry, will take the coffee portfolio and Francis Maneke, who has served as a member of parliament since 2017, the palm oil one.
“Traditional Papua New Guinea crops have lost focus over the last 30, 40 years. We want to bring them back to the table,” Marape said. “We are breaking them down to specific ministers so that these programs get managed by a minister properly at the micro level.”
Palm oil is Papua New Guinea’s leading agricultural export. Since 2008, it has generated over 1 billion kina ($283 million) in revenue and accounts for over 40% of the country’s total earnings from agricultural exports, according to the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
While coffee is Papua New Guinea’s second biggest agricultural export, accounting for 6% of GDP from 2012 to 2017, the department says the revenue it generates fuels many other industries, from transport to construction and insurance to banking.
And while the coffee industry has faced challenges recently, with its share of the global market halving between 2012 and 2016, Marape hopes the new minister, who is from the Wahgi Valley region known for its coffee, will help perk things up.
“The Hon. Joe Kuli (will have) no other work than coffee, coffee, coffee alone,” Marape said.
“I want to drink coffee made in Goroka, made in Hagen, made in Lae, made in Popondetta, made in our own country for us to export.
“He’s now given the task of just sleeping, talking about coffee, waking, talking about coffee.”