Article - Do you start your day with a fairtrade coffee?

Do you start your day with a fairtrade coffee?

Hi, I’m Mike Murphy, Managing Director of Kokako. In April 2013, I was invited to visit some of the coffee cooperatives that supply Kokako in Papua New Guinea along with a small contingent from the Australian and NZ offices of Fairtrade and several other roasters from Australian coffee companies. The photo is of me and Russell Poka, Chairman of the Keto Tapasi Coffee Cooperative, PNG

PNG: Background

PNG has a population of 7.5 Million and covers 462,000 sq kms. As you may expect 87% of the population live rurally and of this it is made up of 1000+ indigenous tribal groups. Interestingly there are 836 languages in PNG which makes up 12% of the world’s total languages. Tok Pisin / English is the official language.


• Low HDI Ranking – 156 out of 194 countries (health, knowledge, standard of living).
• Tribal conflicts
• Poor infrastructure
• High levels of illiteracy – only 50% have 3+ years education
• Corruption (150 out of 174 T.I index)
• Environmental and economic – mining, palm plantations, mineral rich
• Climate change (can affect coffee flowering and harvesting)

Fairtrade Coffee

Picture: A smallholder farmer from the Neknasi Coffee Growers Cooperative, PNG, leaning against an outdoor coffee drying rack that’s used by many of the local coffee growers.

Highlands Organic Agriculture Coop

Agriculture is the main livelihood for 85% Papuans smallholder farmers. The country produces 1.1 million bags or 66,000 tonnes of coffee per annum. Kokako works with HOAC (Highlands Organic Agriculture Coop) which was registered in 2003 and became fairtrade certified in 2005

HOAC is an association of 2,600 coffee growers, located in remote regions of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. It is estimated that between 50,000 to 60,000 people receive benefits from the association. HOAC’s production levels have been increasing significantly each year, growing from 200 tons of green bean in 2005 to over 1,200 tons by the end of 2012.

Fair-trade premium project – water quality

Water is not in short supply in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, however access to drinkable water has been challenging especially as activity upstream has contaminated water ways for those further downstream. HOAC through Fairtrade have recently funded a water supply project for the community to the tune of 37,000K. Water is now being piped directly from the source in the hills behind the village. Currently there is one tap per every 3 houses, but it is hoped that the community will be able to eventually extend the supply directly to each household. HOAC are now carrying out a needs assessment with other communities similar for water projects.

Fairtrade premium project – schools

To date, HOAC have built 4 permanent elementary schools and teacher accommodation. The cooperative has also assisted other villages with materials towards construction of another 2 schools. On the last part of our visit to HOAC we stopped off at once such school, Tamox Elementary School – where we saw what was left of the remains of the old temporary old building and the new permanent building. Prior to the new school being built, children would have to walk over 2.5 kms to the next village for schooling.

HOAC aren’t stopping there though, they are a cooperative with big ambitions. As well as continuing to roll out their community projects they are planning to purchase a disused mill in a neighbouring district and start dry milling their coffee from parchment coffee to green bean ready for export. This will provide greater returns for farmers as they move up the supply chain capturing more of the value for processing their coffee.

If you’d like to learn more about Kokako, our ethical sourcing or single origin and blend profiles or attend one of our coffee cupping sessions please visit

  • Tags: 
  • No tags were found

    Leave a comment on this article