Timothy Koluvai once took up arms against ethnic rivals. Today he helps them learn to grow cocoa.
The transition in the life of the 52-year-old Koluvai shows how times have changed in his village deep in the jungle of southern Bougainville, the main island of Papua New Guinea’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
A successful cocoa farmer in his own right, Timothy also mentors 966 cocoa farmers in Konnou constituency through his role as Senior Project Officer for the World-Bank funded Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP).
He was recruited because of his achievements growing cocoa independently amid two major ethnic conflicts in the area — the Bougainville Crisis of 1989–99, and the Konnou Crisis of 2007-11.
Koluvai fought in the Bougainville Crisis for his Wisai community against rival Me’ekemui combatants. After the unrest ceased, he recognized that cocoa was one of the only ways he could rebuild and forge a secure future for himself and his family. He built his own nursery and taught himself to grow pest-resistant cocoa trees.
In recognition of his efforts, Koluvai was the first farmer to take part in the PPAP program, learning financial management skills and additional farming techniques that contributed to greater individual success and profits.
When the Konnou Crisis broke out, sparked by revenge killings tied to the Bougainville Crisis, Koluvai fought as a member of the Wisai Liberation Movement (WILMO).