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It was a pleasant evening sitting at a table with some friends in an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Honolulu. With me was John Kaewa the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Papua New Guinea (BUPNG). We were talking about my favourite drink, coffee. Before I continue, and just to set some minds to rest, this was work! We were in Honolulu attending the Baptist World Alliance Congress in 2010....

On and off over the years, John and I had chatted about exporting coffee from PNG, but this time we were getting serious. You see, I am already sourcing roasted coffee from PNG under Latitude Six coffee, a joint partnership between Mission Aviation Fellowship, one of MISSION WORLD's Strategic Mission Partners, and Marketplacers International Limited, our business enterprise. John on the other hand was looking for a way to develop an enterprise which could help communities in his country and could see exporting coffee as a genuine way to make that happen. It seemed obvious to us that this was worth exploring together.

My dream was, in addition to the successful promotion of Latitude Six coffee, that we import green coffee beans into the New Zealand coffee market linking coffee roasters, café's and coffee-connoisseurs through ethical business helping coffee growers in countries like PNG to secure fairer rates for their coffee.So, as we sat in that restaurant, we agreed that we would partner together and see where God might lead us. It was about more than just the coffee. This agreement was rekindling a friendship that New Zealand Baptist's have had with BUPNG for many decades.

Over ten year ago NZBMS concluded on-the-ground-ministry in PNG because the BUPNG had become well established and was able to become all that God has called them to be without having a New Zealand Baptist missionary presence. The BUPNG has continued to grow and mature as a movement in PNG.

On arriving back from Hawaii, I discussed the coffee idea with Neil Perry, team leader tranzsend, and twice an NZBMS missionary in PNG. He suggested we talk to Rob Thomson, who had a similar vision some fifty years ago. I just love it when the sparkle in someone's eye features in a conversation like the one we had with Rob in Auckland. He was pretty excited about the possibility and agreed to investigate further when he visited PNG a few weeks later.

Recognising that there was definitely a possibility to begin something, Paul Thompson, New Zealand Manager of Banzaid, was also encouraged to research it further. He and Neil Perry travelled to PNG to do a full-scale investigation, with a very positive outcome.

What Paul has been able to do since that Honolulu rendezvous is establish a Banzaid project partnering with the BUPNG to establish an economic sustainable development enterprise that will provide coffee for the international market ensuring that the growers are paid well for their crops. A unique part of this enterprise will be the development of a demonstration farm which will help develop new coffee varieties and establish alternative cash cropping for coffee farmers to help reduce income fluctuations caused by international coffee market demands.

Both the New Zealand and PNG Governments can see the potential of this project. Through the New Zealand Aid Programme we have received approval for $700,000 and $575,000 from the PNG Government.

The first year installment of the NZ Aid Programme funds ($481,900 for set up costs) is already in hand, and project activities started in July 2013.

Banzaid is seeking support from donors to the tune of $100,000 over the next three years as agreed matching contributions. What this means is, every dollar donated attracts $1,275 of matching funds.

If you or your church is looking for a project to support in the Pacific, here is one that is hard to look past – you can be a part of a scheme that will help the BUPNG to help the coffee growers of PNG ensure life is sustainable for them.

If you are interested in joining this project go to the Become a Supporter link at the top of this page.

If you, your business or your church need some coffee now, go to www.marketplacers.co.nz or www.latitudesix.co.nz.

Peter Mihaere is the General Director of The New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society (NZBMS) – New Zealand Baptists Reaching the World.

This article was originally published in the World Reach pages of the October 2013 edition of the NZ Baptist. Also available on the Mission World website

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