Solar powered milling technology for rice farmers

A solar powered rice milling technology will be piloted in the Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea for the next three years (2017-2019) to boost food security and improve rural livelihoods in selected rice growing areas. This is a collaboration between the PNG National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), Trukai Industries Limited, Project Support Services (PSS) and the PNG Women in Agriculture with the support of the Australian Government funded Incentive Fund.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop launched the project on March 9 2017 at the NARI Head Office in Lae.

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Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop cuts the ribbon to launch the solar powered rice milling project as NARI Council Chairman Professor Chalapan Kaluwin looks on

Rice has become a staple food in PNG but not a staple crop despite its introduction some 100 years ago. Rice is not a staple crop partly because farmers do not get the maximum production output with attractive returns, from their limited investments, due to the lack of an ideal milling solution.

Milling is a critical post-harvest input that separates the edible, white rice kernel from husks and bran layers after harvesting.

The challenge with milling services has resulted in rice farming being restricted to certain isolated rural communities that would make do with locally invented or traditional milling technologies such as the wooden tongtong or kisar mills. Where there is access to diesel powered mills, experience has shown that operational costs and maintenance repairs are somewhat unsustainable, especially in rural areas. Whilst the wooden technologies provide a suitable solution for single family consumption, the high labour input and low quality rice produced makes them unsuitable for commercial rice processing.

The new solar-derived rice milling innovation will now be put to test in Morobe to help ease the milling challenge faced by farmers. The pilot project is expected to boost food security and improve rural livelihoods with solar powered rice processing technologies and commercial market linkages in the province.

The project will provide rural households from 30 rice growing communities with sustainable rice processing infrastructure, skills, knowledge and marketing opportunities, and to kick-start a viable domestic rice sector. The initiative is in-line with the Government’s National Rice Policy 2015-2030, which emphasises domestic rice production.

The goal is to assess a model to increase rice production, decrease PNG’s reliance on imported rice, improve energy access and increase agriculture and non-agriculture income earning opportunities amongst the target beneficiaries, particularly women, with the overall goal of improving food security and rural livelihoods.

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Trukai Industries CEO Greg Worthington-Eyre explains the partnership to Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in the presence of project partners during the launch

This is another Australian Government support to PNG agricultural development, building on an existing relationship with NARI through various technical and financial arrangements over the years.

Minister Bishop said the project builds on the long running partnership between NARI, PNG’s hub for agricultural research since its inception in 1996, and the Australian Government.

“Through this partnership, Australia and Papua New Guinea have been able to share knowledge and skills to improve research capacity,” Bishop said.

“Importantly, this has led to the development and release of new technologies that have enhanced agriculture production for rural farmers.  This has particularly benefitted women who play a critical role in the agriculture sector.”

NARI has been a researcher and promoter of rice in recent years, resulting in the release of four upland rice varieties for PNG conditions and working with communities in exploring options for better postharvest processes for maximum output. Its involvement will expand the current knowledge, research and applied science of rice farming in PNG.

Trukai has been working with communities across the country including Morobe to develop a viable domestic rice industry with market access. The partnership with local organisations and efforts in supporting local rice farmers fall in line with Trukai’s  vision for sustainable rice and agricultural development in the country with viable market linkages for rural farmers.

PSS has been serving rural communities with appropriate agricultural machinery and renewable energy technologies, and the new solar powered rice mill holds more for PNG rice development. The company has specifically developed the solution after witnessing the difficulties that rural communities have in keeping diesel powered agricultural machines working – which are costly and have high maintenance requirements.

The PNG Women in Agriculture represents the beneficiaries of the project, particularly women and rice farming communities in the province.

The innovation stands to provide rural rice farming communities a new sustainable opportunity for increased agricultural productivity whilst providing life-changing energy access.

The solar powered rice mill can process 250kg of brown rice or 100kg of white rice per day. The income that rice farmers generate from just one harvest, from one hectare, is enough to pay for the entire system, which can continue to provide many years of milling and energy access thereafter. The machine has no fuel costs. It is very low maintenance and also provides electricity from the solar energy to power a house, school, health clinic; light up village or run a small business.

The project will involve:

  • installation and operationalization of community-level agro-processing infrastructure: solar powered rice processing mills, which provide a number of other electricity related services and benefits,
  • development of market linkages: connecting rural growers to a large scale national buyer and guaranteeing market rates to overcome the initial risks associated with switching to new farming methods, and
  • carrying out technical and market based research to support PNG’s rice sector.

The piloting in Morobe is a first step to future possible nationwide initiatives to implement key strategies outlined in the national rice policy, medium term development plans and Vision 2050.

The project will build capacity of rural farmers and stakeholders, through increased production and processing of rice, as well as creating new commercial opportunities, and supports a shift towards commercial production.

The project targets 30 communities that have a record of growing rice but do not have ready access to an operational mill. However if a community has committed the time and effort to grow a minimum volume of two hectares of rice, despite having low access to milling services, the project will value that past commitment and associated efforts as a form of equity for the solar mill provided under the project.

The new intervention brings more opportunities for rural PNG communities. It is hopeful that the knowledge learned through this pilot phase can be replicated elsewhere in the country.

NARI Council Chairman Professor Chalapan Kaluwin thanked Minister Bishop for the Australian Government support: “The partnership between Australia and Papua New Guinea empowers communities by assisting them to increase production. It has also played a critical role in protecting existing crops and tackling pests – this is critical to food security in PNG”.

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The potential of precision agriculture

By Moses Robby

In modern agriculture, farmers tend to use precision agriculture to be able to understand weather patterns, soil temperature and humidity. It is important in today’s farming practices as it helps farmers to make production more efficient.

According to the Wikipedia definition, “Precision agriculture, or satellite farming, or site specific crop management is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops.”

practical-session_gps-functionsGlobal Positioning System (GPS) has added more value to the practice of precision agriculture. Farmers and researchers have used this technology to pin-point precisely on the map, the location in the field, that allows for map creation as a tool for accurate decision making.

Precision agriculture makes it quite easy to measure from maps with spatial variability such as determining crop yields in a field, distinguishing terrain features and topography of the field for new planting, determine the moisture levels, etc.

By having access to this information and studying the various factors using precision agriculture technique, smallholder farmers are able to produce more food supply at a fraction of the cost.

For instance, in some countries, farmers are now using GPS to carry out site-specific surveys for new planting or help in harvesting using GPS computer guided tractors.

One of the examples in precision agriculture is the evaluation of soil variability on a given field. Soils with more water table can be planted densely whilst irrigation is spared. Or the plot or area can be used for cattle grazing than a similar area of poorer soil quality.

According to the NARI Strategic and Results Framework 2011-2020 (2011), the focus of agriculture development in PNG has changed due to new technologies released over the past 18 years. These new technologies have also taught local villagers on how to nurture and grow food crops that will;
• improve food security and nutrition and health,
• Increase income per capita among rural population,
• Increase gainful employment, and
• Sustainable natural resource base and environment.

In essence, the rural population has seen a major break-through in supporting their livelihoods through cash income and employment through Small Medium Enterprises by selling their produce viz commercial arrangement with business houses or through barter system – ‘selling crops at the market’.

Whilst this is relatively important for rural communities, farmers can now use precision agriculture in the form of site specific practices using available data such as soil sampling collection, crop yielding data collection, or having access to aerial imagery, drainage levels, potential yields which are relatively available and can be obtained from NARI GIS Section.

PNG smallholder farmers like many other farmers around the world are encouraged to use precision agriculture practices to better their farming practices.

There are a range of suitable services and solutions on precision agriculture for smallholder farmers for enhanced productive agriculture environment. These services are available in PNG with various institutions and developers.

However, a major setback has been the general lack of knowledge on where these services are and their usability and benefits. Precision agriculture is applicable to all agro-ecological conditions of PNG. Farmers should embrace the technology to change from traditional agriculture to a modern agriculture footprint for national benefit.

Smallholder farmers can use precision agriculture services in crop production, farm management, yielding and marketing by utilising these services within their reach;
• Digital farm maps – ,maps are important and they make life easy, providing much needed information on the land area including points of interest for farming, water, etc.
• GPS data collection – use of handheld GPS to collect data and processing using GPS software to calculate hectare(s) of planted area, new area for planting and derive other useful information for farm management,
• Farm production information – providing information on areas planted and yields to derive projected cash flow to support decision for loan and commercial business arrangements, and
• Using mobile acquire data app – to capture variables if GPS is not available. Mobile app is an emerging technique to help farmers in data collection.

Coffee and cocoa are major cash crops, providing income for more than a million households. A recent funding of US$30 million by World Bank to the PPAP project in PNG is expected to benefit up to 60,000 coffee and cocoa farmers and their families (World Bank Report, 2012).

Oil palm is a recent crop in the smallholder farming system. The use of precision agriculture techniques to maintain good farming practice will leverage on-farm trials such as conducting research to improve farming system which helps the farmers to seek advice and direction on how to improve.

The two main influencers of crops are altitude and rainfall. Studying these two phenomenal climatic variables are often good for smallholder farmers in oil management practices. For any sustainable farming operation, the characteristics of soil should be considered priority prior to commitment in terms of financial and labour input.

Precision agriculture in soil management and surface water management plans helps set up the long term benefits to the farmer.

In general term, precision agriculture is all about mapping and having the data available for good decision making to improve productivity and cash income for smallholder farmers.

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ICTs offer huge potential for agriculture development in this information age

By Seniorl Anzu

Computers and related Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) have become central to everyday commerce, learning and development in this information age. The rapid emergence of technological innovation has provided greater opportunities for improvements in information and data processing, knowledge management, collaboration, information sharing, and learning. The advances in ICTs allow increased engagements in real-time for informed decision making and development at various levels.

jeremy-kavi-and-facilitatorThis is true for agriculture development. ICTs are providing a new paradigm for agricultural development with the many user-friendly applications and solutions. ICT application in agriculture has therefore gained global acceptance as an everyday tool to bridge the digital divide.

PNG agriculture has valued ICT opportunities as a paramount catalyst for sectoral development. As agriculture becomes knowledge intensive and when information needs become complex due to emerging challenges, new and improved interventions of ICTs are critical, especially with the decline in the conventional extension system. Such could be realised in terms of processes through which data and information are generated, processed, managed and shared with the intended users.

There are a number of ICT tools and systems which are already utilised in the PNG agriculture process. They relate to infrastructure and network, computers and related devices, databases and knowledge management systems, softwares, web-based spaces, media production tools, quality control tools, and communication. Examples are in the GIS databases (PNGRIS, MASP, FARMSYS); library and information system (MAIS); online presence (website, social networking), hardware (computers-desktops and laptops, cameras and scanners, weather devices, printers and photocopiers), Softwares (licensed and open source packages), communication (emails, telecoms), access to external knowledge management systems, etc.

The Internet of Things provides another landscape with huge opportunities for improved data storage, information sharing and networking. The dynamism in Web 2.0 / open source platforms, supported by hand-held smart devices, with user-friendly capabilities and at cheaper costs – all offer more flexibility, providing greater room for instant communication, unlimited and much regular engagement.

Such developments create avenues for stakeholders to share their experiences and access timely information on market prices, availability of drought tolerant crops during challenging periods, availability of seeds for the coming cropping season, and the next schedule of the transport system.

However, developments in ICT interventions should also accommodate prevailing challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, poor connectivity, low bandwidth, limited and unreliable electricity supply, finance, ICT skills and policy guidelines. Similar hindrances can also be expected of the clients and target audiences.

Several ICT approaches and solutions have been tested under difference arrangements in the recent past. The VSAT experiment by NARI in climate change awareness and the SMS-based market information platform by FPDA are examples. There are lessons elsewhere in the region and around the globe; some of which with successes. New collaborations at both regional and global levels provide unique platforms that can facilitate improved research and development locally.

Sectoral players should also make considerable inputs into development in the following:

Policies and strategies – Organisations require established ICT policies and strategies; not only to guide the use of ICTs by their staff but also to establish guiding principles and protocols when collaborating and engaging with stakeholders. Several organisations have made attempts on this front. The development of a national e-agriculture strategy through the leadership of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock with technical support from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Telecommunication Union is a move in the right direction.

Infrastructure capacity – while ensuring ongoing investment and maintenance of infrastructure and network, it is relatively important to ensure the satisfactory use to their fullness. The efficiency of ICT capability will enable increased engagement with stakeholders.

Human talent development – up-skilling staff capacity in specific competency areas through identified training opportunities is essential. Investment decisions in infrastructure and human development should consider options that consider sustainability issues.

Collaborations – explore and participate in collaborations involving ICT solutions. The evolving technology offers new and existing opportunities for instant and daily engagements which would facilitate rapid management and diffusion of information (eg online platforms- management information systems; Mobile Apps, library database, etc). This also begs greater partnerships with PNG’s National Agricultural Research System, sectoral agencies, relevant government authorities, and development partners.

New thinking in system re-orientation, improved support and willingness would enable the sector to embrace the opportunities in e-agriculture with improved approaches to information sharing with stakeholders. This realisation can potentially empower the knowledge sector with not only appropriate but timely information and knowledge required for agricultural productivity; contributing to sectoral growth and national development outputs.

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Frost destroys sweet potato crops

tambul 2

Sweet potato gardens destroyed by frost in August 2015 during the El Nino-induced drought.

Occasional frost occurrence is common  in the high altitudes of PNG, particularly Tambul, Kandep, Upper Mendi, Ialibu and few other pockets in the highlands.

Frost in PNG is often associated with drought. During the 2015 El Nino drought, frost occurred in Tambul – not once but over five consecutive nights in August, destroying all sweet potato crops. It occurred again twice in September.

According to the PNG National Weather Service, it was the strongest event since 1997.

In a climate outlook released on September 4, NWS reported that: “The impacts of this El Niño event is a true testament of the severity of this phenomenon now being felt in all parts of the country.”

The high altitude highlands has been the worst affected, as noted by the Highlands Drought Response Team’s recent assessment.

“One interesting observation which confirms this event to be the strongest El Niño event ever is that unlike the past El Niños, the magnitude of the real extent of the damage was very huge, encroaching into areas which were once immune to frosts and droughts,” says Kasis Inape of NWS, who was part of the team to the highlands in late August.

Areas such as Tambul received category 5 ranking – as the worst due to the double impact of El Niño induced drought and frost.

“The typical cycle of an El Niño is that it gets organized in Autumn (FMA), matures around Spring (ASO) and dissipates the following Autumn.

“The current El Niño has now matured and slowly it will dissipate. Normally, during a very strong El Niño event, the drought is often broken by heavy floods in Autumn therefore there is this added precaution to be wary of after the drought.”

To date, the high altitudes are yet to fully cover from the staple food – sweet potato.

Generally all highlands provinces were affected by drought.

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A potato patch destroyed by frost in the Lower Kaugel are of Tambul, Western Highlands

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High yielding sweet potato at Tanna’s volcanic soils

Tanna island’s volcanic ash continues to give Vanuatu farmers the food they need after the Cyclone Pam destruction in March 2015.

Vanuatu Scientific Officer  Antoine Ravo said despite the devastating effects of the natural disaster, many farmers have recovered through farming in which they are able to get good harvests of sweet potato and other root crops.

Recently Middlebush farmers enjoyed a harvest of high yielding sweet potato through a field day conducted jointly by the Vanuatu Department of Agriculture and PNG’s NARI under a EU regional project on climate change adaptation.

Farmers harvested sizeable and good quality tubers through this regional project on climate change adaptation in which agricultural diversification through the introduction of improved crop varieties such as kaukau, cassava, yams and rice was undertaken in the last five years.

Ravo, who is also the country sub-coordinator, said the European Union project has helped the Tanna farmers with improved agricultural technologies and farming practices for improved food security and income.

Support in food processing has enabled some of the root crops developed into value added products which the locals could store for several months and also sell at higher prices to other communities.

Processed foods from Middlebush are packaged, labelled and sold in markets and stores.

During the course of the project activities, more farmers  have shown  interest in  new innovations.

Similar support was provided to two other project sites – Siviri and Malafau in North Efate.

Meanwhile, a rice trial survived the cyclone while all other crops were destroyed.

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Middlebush farmers on Tanna Island pose during a sweet potato harvest and field day

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Biosand filter and SODIS provide safe drinking water to communities

Hygienic issues related to livestock and free roaming animals pose an eminent threat to already contaminated water sources. Communities like Derin and Kopafo located in Transgogol, Madang Province and Bena Bena, Eastern Highland Province, face such challenges, especially during prolonged dry seasons.

Derin and Kopafo community members were trained in proper hygienic practices and suitable water supply and purification systems were identified. Amongst the selected options were water purification through application of biosandfilter and solar disinfection.

Biosand filter is used to purify contaminated water by filtering the water through layers of sand. During the process microorganisms get mechanically trapped and adsorbed by the sand particles and eventually eaten in the biolayer.

IMG_20150129_115645These processes significantly reduce the amount of microorganisms which can cause certain digestion disease.

The biosand filter technology has been well received by villagers and many stated that the filtered water tastes good.

Microbiological water quality tests conducted on-site convinced the villagers of the effectiveness of the biosand filters to reduce levels of contamination.

WADIS devices which measures solar radiation for solar disinfection, were also distributed to villagers. The contaminated water is filled in transparent bottles and exposed to sun light.

Solar radiation kills all bacteria inside the bottled water. The WADI device measures the solar radiation and indicates, when the process is completed.

The Derin community expressed great satisfaction with biosand filter, saying it helped them access clean and safe drinking water during the 2015 drought.

derinDerin village councilor Peter Kunou said all sources of fresh water and even creeks dried up due to the prolonged dry spell but his ward community was able to get clean and purified water, through the technology, for drinking and other household chores.Kunou said his community is fortunate to use biosand filters locally developed to filter and purify any unsafe water found in drains and dried up creeks in the village.

“What comes out of the purification process is clean water free from pathogens and dirt,” Kunou said.

Over 20 households in Derin own and use the technology.

“Instead of travelling long distances looking for clean water, we can now purify and consume any water found around the village and garden areas,” Kunou emphasized.

The entire Ward 9 community spoke highly of the intervention as it has benefited them greatly.

The interventions were introduced by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) through a regional project on climate change adaptation.

A mother, Alis Opam, thanked NARI saying the biosand filter process was important for the health and hygiene of mothers and children in the community.

The soil and water team of the project have been instrumental in assisting vulnerable communities in PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

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Project supports Yule Islanders mitigate climate change

Yule model farmer Mathilda Parau and community members displaying tubers of African yam during the Labao field day on October 7 2015

Yule model farmer Mathilda Parau and community members displaying tubers of African yam during the Labao field day on October 7 2015

Yule islanders in Kairuku-Hiri can now farm improved crop varieties and livestock breeds as a result of the project which has enabled them acquiring necessary skills and knowledge from NARI.

They can cultivate improved varieties of rice, cassava and yams and rear chicken and goats without any major problems for food security and income, despite their harsh farming environment and geographical isolation.

On Wednesday October 7, model farmers organized a mini-field day at Labao village to display their produce and share their knowledge with other farmers on the island.

Yule is a dry island community with poor soil for agriculture and locals lacking innovations for improved food production. Soil fertility has diminished over the years and emerging changes in the climate and environment have put more pressure on the community.

However the interventions by NARI have shown some light in which villagers can competently improve farming – by producing large tubers of yams and cassava from improved planting materials and new farming techniques, as compared to their local varieties and farming system. They can also look after chicken and goats as sources of protein and cash, besides their fish from the sea.

Senior NARI scientist Site Coordinator Dr Peter Gendua said the project was about enabling rural communities to mitigate climate change related stresses through innovative agriculture.

A key element of the approach was that farmers were involved in field research from which they could learn and adopt best practices based on outputs on their own farms.

Yule village chief and model farmer John Ume displaying drought tolerant cassava tubers during the field day on October 7 2015

Yule village chief and model farmer John Ume displaying drought tolerant cassava tubers during the field day on October 7 2015

Dr Gendua said Yule Island farmers did well in adopting the technologies through effective community organization and participation with improved farm productivity which was much better than their traditional practice, which the farmers have openly acknowledged.

“Food security for families is foremost important; but extras can be sold for cash to meet other needs and social obligations,” Dr Gendua told farmers during the field day.

He also asked the innovative farmers to share their acquired skills with other new interested farmers.

During the field day, a new micro-mill for rice milling was presented to the farmers.

Model farmer Mathilda Parau said NARI’s African yam has done wonders for the community. Parau said while yam and cassava are common root crops for the islanders, the introduced varieties survived the droughts and produced large tubers which provided plenty of food for the households.

Village Chief John Ume thanked NARI and EU for choosing Yule as the host site for the project. He said their efforts have impacted the community with over 100 men and women farmers benefiting.

“I’m excited that we can now be able to do better agriculture and I cannot say more seeing the rich display of harvests from the island,” Ume said.

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Oro’s Local Rice Farmers Supply Rice to Trukai

http://www.emtv.com.pg/article.aspx?slug=Oro-Supply-Rice-To-Trukai-Industries&subcategory=Top-Stories

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Trukai to purchase Oro rice

Trukai Industries Chairman Mark Robertson (left), Sunrice Chairman Laurie Arthur and Sunrice Grower Services Manager Chris Quirk checking out grains of un-milled rice prepared at Serembe in the Higaturu area of Sohe District, Oro Province.

Trukai Industries Chairman Mark Robertson (left), Sunrice Chairman Laurie Arthur and Sunrice Grower Services Manager Chris Quirk checking out grains of un-milled rice prepared at Serembe in the Higaturu area of Sohe District, Oro Province.

Trukai Industries Ltd and its parent company Sunrice Australia have reached an understanding with the Oro Rice Growers Co-operative Association (ORGCA) to source locally produced rice into the Trukai system to feed Papua New Guineans.

Trukai Chairman Mark Robertson and Sunrice Chairman Laurie Arthur were impressed with local rice from Oro after inspecting rice fields and harvests being prepared for shipment to Lae. They also had talks with growers and Oro Provincial Assembly and the Provincial Executive Council.

The duo with company executives flew to Serembe village in Sohe by chopper from Lae on August 24 2015 to a rousing welcome by rice growers and stakeholders. The visit comes weeks after Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll announced PNG’s new rice policy and acknowledged the efforts of Trukai in heavily investing in the local rice industry.

“People of PNG have a national rice policy and we want to be part of that policy by growing rice in PNG with the people of PNG,” said Robertson.

The Oro Provincial Government has given its full backing and will support the initiative. PEC executives and Governor’s First Secretary Benstead Taru participated in the occasion and assured their support for the rice development project in the province.

Provincial Administrator Shem Vegogo welcomed Trukai into the province and commended it for partnering with the growers. While assuring the partners for possible support in the venture, he called on the landowners and growers to free up their land and grab the opportunity.

Oro farmers have cultivated rice for many years, primarily for food security. The volcanic fertile soil and tropical humid climate are conducive for non-irrigated rice production.

Sunrice Chairman Laurie Arthur and Trukai Industries Chairman Mark Robertson checking out a smallholder rice field in the Oro Province

Sunrice Chairman Laurie Arthur and Trukai Industries Chairman Mark Robertson checking out a smallholder rice field in the Oro Province

ORGCA Chairman Edric Saese said much of the rice was established following the devastating Cyclone Guba when DAL distributed seeds of TCS 10 (ROC Taiwan) and NARI rice varieties. He said now that market is coming to the door step, his 500 registered farmers will go commercial.

Both Robertson and Arthur, who are Australian rice growers, have offered to work with Oro farmers in sharing their expertise.

“It’s good to meet you fellow rice growers. We’d like to think we do business in future,” said Arthur.

The growers association is presently mobilizing un-milled harvested rice from local farmers and the first container will be shipped to the Lae Trukai Mill in the coming days where the grains will be milled, packaged and supplied to PNG consumers.

A Rice Development and Purchasing Agreement will be signed in the next few days to seal the deal.

Trukai Rice Development Manager Humphrey Saese said the agreement will be signed after a response from the Oro Provincial Government.

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Agriculture is central to inclusive and sustainable economy

Hon Joseph Lelang

Hon Joseph Lelang

Papua New Guinea needs to build its economy on a platform that is inclusive and sustainable, and agriculture should be supported and built as the back bone of the country’s economy going forward, says Joseph Lelang, Member for Kandrian/ Glouster.

He said the agriculture sector, which continues to support 85% of some 7 million people, in particular the rural masses, and contributes 18% to GDP, is a critical strategic asset that can function as a growth pillar of the economy into the future.

“It is common knowledge, that the non-renewable mineral and petroleum extractive industries are the leading contributors to the country’s economy,” Lelang said.

“However, the realities of the current fiscal stress, arising out of the drop in world prices on exports from these industries, are clearly teaching us that our over reliance on such industries is not sustainable economic growth.”

An inclusive and sustainable economy is therefore the way to go and Lelang stated that agriculture should take centre stage.

Lelang made the comments when giving the keynote address at the 2015 Agricultural Innovations Show in Lae on August 12. The annual event was hosted by NARI.

He said Vision 2050 is the platform for this to happen as it sets out to improve strategic planning, better service delivery, governance, training of human capital, tariff reduction, trade, education reform, greater value adding through downstream processing and manufacturing, land reform, and the use of impact projects in the sub national level to set the base for growth to 2020.

Lelang said together with this national vision, the Sustainable Development Paradigm, National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development and the new Medium Term Development Plan 2 were adopted as platforms and road-maps for sustainable development – in view of the Millennium Development Goals and PNG Constitution.

“Underpinned by this new development paradigm other consequent and complementary policies have been developed aimed at embedding greener and responsible sustainable development growth strategies in all sectors going forward,” he said.

“These macro and sector plans are futuristic growth prescriptions and demonstrate that the Government is skillfully and prudently making adjustments to our development road map by building PNG’s economy on the unique strength of its strategic assets aimed at positioning PNG competitively among her peers in the global market place.”

Lelang added that the idea was to build PNG’s economy on a platform that is inclusive and greener in character, sustainable and competitive globally.

Agriculture is undoubtedly that sector that must be supported and built as the backbone for the country’s economy for the future, he stated.

Display on galip nut development in PNG by NARI

Display on ‘galip nut development’ by NARI

The Development Strategic Plan (DSP 2030) sets the goal of the agriculture sector to be: “A world class agricultural sector that is responsive to international and domestic markets for a diverse range of products and provides the best available income and job opportunities”, he stressed.

Building on this goal the MTDP 2 reasserted these key priorities of the sector in;

  • Institutional capacity building,
  • Access to land for productive agriculture,
  • Development of supply chains linking producers to markets,
  • Provision of extension services,
  • Mitigations strategies against pests and diseases,
  • Enforcement of CODEX standards,
  • Utilization of economic corridors, and
  • Research and development as the primary strategies for the development of the sector.

These indicate the importance of agriculture in the development life of the country.

“Every effort therefore, needs to be made to improve the strength and performance of the sector in terms of infrastructure support, containment of rising costs of agriculture inputs, development and use of new innovative technologies to give growers better returns through resilient farming practices, and improved value adding and delivery of higher quality products for both domestic and international markets.

Lelang congratulated the NARI Council, Management, and ancillary staff for their continued dedication and invaluable contribution to agricultural research for innovative development; this being the 18th Anniversary of their dedication.

“I also commend you all for prudent and accountable management of public funds during the life of the institute. The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, I am advised, has commended you as one of only ten government-funded organizations that have continued to receive unqualified audit reports.”

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