by Seraphina Aupong – EMTV, Port Moresby
The much loved cassava or more commonly known tapioka is being trailed as a potential beer brewing starch.
In a small but significant ceremony this afternoon, SP brewery and the Department of Agriculture & Livestock cemented their public private partnership in this effort.
SP Brewery & the Agriculture Department, through an Agri Business Consultant, Dr Keith Galgal, has been working on setting up a nursery in Erap, Morobe Province to trial different species of the cassava plant, to find one that will suit this commercial purpose.
Dr Galgal has been working on this project for the last six months. He said this project is working off the cassava research that National Agricultural Research Institute has been conducting over the years for food security purposes.
For this project, they are working with several species that they will choose from.
Cassava or commonly known Tapioka is a much loved food item in Papua New Guinea. It is grown widely in the country and is a robust drought resistant crop.
From a business perspective, this venture will mean a significant reduction in cost for SP brewery as they endeavour to find more locally grown starches as an alternative to the barley that is currently being used.
SP’s Managing Director, Stan Joyce, says this project is part of their “sustainability story” where in finding locally grown starch, they are able to reduce their carbon footprint.
At this stage however, he is not able to confirm to what extent cassava starch will be replacing barley and to what extent it will be used in their various products.
This MOU outlines the responsibility that DAL and SP will now have in establishing and managing a “central cassava nursery.” It is planned that this nursery will become a source of cuttings that will be distributed to small holder farmers in Markham, Huon Gulf and Nawaeb districts in the Morobe province.
The Secretary for Agriculture, Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava, says this agreement marks a transformation within the way the department does business.
However, in terms of management, he is not able to confirm what type of structure will be put in place should cassava takes off as a cash crop.
Twenty hectare of DAL land at the Erap station in Morobe province will now be used for this cassava nursery and distribution. It is anticipated that as early as July, SP brewery will be able to taste samples of what they can expect from this venture.