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30 May 2018


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To follow up on William Dunlop’s point about Lou Searle’s early (late 1960s-early 1970s ) trial agricultural work at Karimui.

Searle planted a small trial plot of cocoa at Karimui – i.e. some 20 years earlier than the later work in the early 1990s.

When I worked at Karimui in 1980-82, his plantings of cocoa, citrus and macadamia were still maintained at the DPI station, though records by then were few or absent.
This is how we described the experimental work (after summarising the detailed work on coffee, cardamom and chillies):


Between 1968 and 1973 DASF (operating from Kundiawa) made experimental plantings of a number of pasture species and crops at Karimui Station.

These included Bixa orellana, sunflower, macadamia nuts, several species of citrus, Cinchona, pawpaw, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa, and several pasture species (Para, Greenleaf Desmodium, Setaria, elephant grass, Louisiana white clover, and Glycine).

Documentation on these trials is virtually absent. There is an inspection report on the pasture trials (RDO to A/RRDO, Goroka, 13 .1.69, File 6-1-1 Karimui Subdistrict, Agriculture), a brief qualitative report on pawpaw, tobacco, citrus, and some pasture species (L.K. Searle to A/DRDO, Kundiawa, 21.1. 71, File 12-1-A, Kundiawa DASF), and some correspondence reporting oil analyses of, sunflower. seeds and the nodulation of white clover and Glycine max· (File 21-1-A(1), Kundiawa DPI, Miscellaneous
crops; File 21-4-A, Kundiawa DPI, Crops-Plant Diseases). There is also passing mention to the trials in Aland (1972), and in a memo (DRDO, Kundiawa, to RRDO, Goroka, 5.4.71, File 23-2-A, Kundiawa DASF, Production and Marketing-General).

The citrus, macadamia, and cocoa plantings are still maintained at the DPI Station.

Source: p. 236 of: Hide, R.L., Goodbody, S., and Gertru, G. 1984. “Agriculture:. In: Hide, R.L. ed. South Simbu: Studies in Demography, Nutrition, and Subsistence. Research Report of the Simbu Land Use Project Vol. VI. Research Report of the Simbu Land Use Project Vol. VI. Port Moresby, Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research, pp. 206-289.

Copy online at:

Robert - You're welcome. Please do what you can to look after our wantok Francis Nii, our scribe blong Simbu.

William - Thank you for the 'toksave'. You and your comrades have done a great to open up the place to the outside world. Thank you!

Robert - I was their for your ancestors son, and very proud to be part of Doolan b'long Chimbu.

Laurie Doolan was the first District Commissioner of Chimbu, a progressive leader who pushed forward at great speed to develop the (in the 1960s) neglected province which has few natural resources beyond the energy and ingenuity of its people - KJ

Thanks Francis. Great article. Hope the promised funds are released for the benefit of our people.

William Dunlop's comment struck me cold, making it feel as if our generation cannot achieve anything but only benefit from infrastructure developed some 50 years ago. Very embarrassing to say the least.

Immediate action is required to complete Karimui road followed cocoa etc...development!

I like the term 'preventive maintenance', William. This is what is lacking in PNG, rendering most of the roads to deterioration. Spot repairs and preventive maintenance is what the provincial works unit needs to do.

Francis - As I recall the next stage was to Karumui, However self government and independence seem to haven gotten in the way. No Doolan blong Chimbu any more, that's what the people called him.

In 1978 the Highlands Highway (Sina Sina-Kundiawa) was upgraded by Works and Supply who brought in Bill Baltitude as Works Manager and his team from the Snowy Mountains Construction Authority.

I was Manager Plant and Transport Authority Bougainville then and was sent to Chimbu to look at this project. Even though a very successful project it was eventually mismanaged through lack of effective preventive maintenance - as has the entire PNG rural and national road networks today.

From Kale Samuel, a cocoa buyer.....

I am right here in Finschhafen, one of the cocoa and coffee (Arabica) producing districts in PNG.

There is no road link to Lae. Freight per bag cocoa is between K80-K100 by boat. One way boat fare per passenger is K100.

Further North West, Sialum, Wasu and Umboi Island (Siassi) might be between K150 to K200.

Most cocoa farmers have abandoned the crop because fermentary owners are not paying them well due to higher transport costs.

It is unfair treatment for those who have been faithfully growing cocoa over the years yet nothing is done to help them.

It would be also wise to improve services to the already existing cocoa producing areas before venturing into new territory.

How will production of cocoa increase if the existing faithful farmers are neglected?

Production is decreasing on this side and increasing on that side. We end up producing same volume all year round.

As one of the team members from the PNG Cocoa Coconut Research Institute which pushed cocoa and coconut (unfortunately heard that coconut palms died) into Karamui in 2008, I am happy to see that funds may be made available to this very important project.

I pray and hope for this to continue on in the foreseeable future until cocoa take roots in Karimui. It is not just a provincial project but also a national project.

When Cocoa Pod Borer arrived in ENB in 2006, it took everybody by surprise.

Our agricultural scientists identified the introduction of cocoa into Karimui (and other potential suitable highland regions) as one of the ways to help sustain the cocoa industry because the highlands were free from the pest.

The Simbu government was very supportive of the project from the start. I have every confidence that if funds are available, the project will be a success.

I don't see any problem with scientific and extension help. The industry board will be ready to offer whatever help.

Yes William, the Gumine Salt Nomane road is used to this day. But there is no road access to Karimui where cocoa production is going on . It needs to be connected to the outside world.

Francis - Lew Searle of DASF Kundiawa in the late 1960's early 1970's had successfully trialled a large range of produce in the Karumui district,

Amongst them were the most beautiful grapefruit I have ever tasted.

When the late Laurie Doolan was District Commissioner lots of things happened in the south and roads got built. I was present when the Administrator opened the Salt Nomane road extension from Gumine in, as I recall, 1970.

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