Copra prices in Papua New Guinea's Madang Province have continued to drop, leaving farmers desperate for help.
The average price per metric tonne of copra is now just over US$700, down from US$1,500 last year, according to the latest figures from the Bloomberg financial news service.
The commodity crop experienced a long and steady rise in value in the early 2000s, but prices have fluctuated wildly since the start of the global financial crisis.
The last major price slump occurred in 2009, when the cost of a tonne plummeted to US$400.
There was another strong recovery at the start of 2011, but competition from soy beans and falling global demand, exacerbated by inflation from PNG's mining and gas boom, have caused the latest drop to be brutally felt by copra farmers.
Mr Fairweather also explained that though the price of copra is not as low as it was in 2009, the kina is now stronger against the US dollar so copra exports are now worth less.
"All the major growers are now subsidising their plantations from other sources of income. That can only last so long."
Ken Fairweather, MP for Sumkar, Madang Province, PNG
He says farmers would like to switch to more lucrative crops, but the soil in Madang cannot be used to grow anything else, and affected communities are currently relying on food gardens and coconut-based foods.
"Copra is generally grown on soil that won't grow anything else. In the volcanic areas its not so bad because they've also got food gardens generally most of the time, but some of the more remote areas do not," Mr Fairweather said.
Government supportLocal governments in the copra-growing regions of New Ireland and Milne Bay have begun providing financial support to copra farmers.
However, Madang's government says it doesn't have the funds to follow suit, and has been lobbying the national government for support.
Mr Fairweather is leading calls to set up a nationally-administered fund to subsidise prices when they fall, and intends to raise the issue in parliament next week.
"The problem is the same across all the commodities. The solution will be a single solution."
Tommy Tomscoll, Papua New Guinea's Agriculture Minister
National strategyTommy Tomscoll, Papua New Guinea's Agriculture Minister, has said he is aware of the problem.
He said he is in discussions to develop a national strategy to respond to fluctuating prices across the agricultural sector.
However, he said that in the short term Madang's governor will need to make a decision on whether to subsidise local copra producers. ABC News