The high altitude research station of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) at Tambul in the Western Highlands Province now has a new office complex.The facility was officially commissioned by Jiwaka Governor William Tongamp on Tuesday, 8th October 2013, during an agricultural innovations show organized by NARI and its partners for highlands farmers.
This new facility, which replaces the old office that was built in the early 1950s, will support research and development program for the high altitude areas of PNG. Research at Tambul has resulted in generating new and improved agricultural technologies and information for farmers to manage common farming issues in cooler climates. One of them is the release of improved potato clones against the devastating Potato Late Blight (PLB) disease.
During the opening, Tambul-Nebilyer MP Benjamin Poponawa called on farmers in the high-altitude areas to make full use of NARI expertise in addressing their agricultural challenges. Mr Poponawa said the high-altitude region has unique problems and stands to benefit from NARI’s activities, especially in light of the changing climate.
“NARI and its partners like the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) have already shown us their worth. They have already released a number of technologies of benefit to the region which are on display for us to see and adopt,” Mr Poponawa said.
NARI Director General Dr Raghunath Ghodake said the facility will greatly support NARI’s activities in the region, saying the high altitude highlands areas have distinct challenges and such facilities will support NARI’s efforts in addressing them.Dr Ghodake, who may have had his last visit to Tambul, called on the local people to see and appreciate what NARI is trying to do in the region. “We are here to work with you, look after this facility and you will benefit from it”, Dr Ghodake told a cheering crowd.
Dr Ghodake said provinces like Western highlands, Jiwaka, Simbu and Eastern highlands have no gold, copper, oil, gas, and will continue to depend on agriculture, adding NARI was there to help them. He said people in the region need to appreciate that science and technology can contribute towards addressing challenges they may come to face, taking example of NARI’s efforts to revive the potato industry after the PLB incident.
“We brought in potato varieties from Peru and evaluated them here for resistance to PLB. Through this process we have released four varieties to the farming community”, Dr Ghodake said.
Mr Poponawa also pledged K50,000 each to NARI and FPDA in appreciation of their efforts and encouraged both organizations to continue with their good work in the region. The office complex, built at K270, 000 with funding support of K50, 000 from Mr Poponawa, will have office spaces for technical and administrative staff and a conference room.