By Bethanie Harriman – EM TV News, Lae
Chingwam Rice Cooperative, made up of Markham rice farmers in the Morobe province, has finally started growing rice in their fields after the 2015 dry spell.
A field the size of seven football pitches at the Ragiampum village has rice growing, and over time will produce thirty tonnes of rice for consumers in Papua New Guinea.
Chairman of the cooperative, Michael Marang, is calling for more government support for local rice cultivation.
“I am ready to feed the nation, I think I can do this, if the government helps me,” he says.
The seven-hectare rice field in Ragiampum has been planted and it is finally growing after the rain has come.
It’s been nearly two years since an agreement was signed between the cooperative and Trukai Industries.
“No more imported rice. Local rice is now available,” says Marang.
With a certain amount of risk, the country’s rice manufacturer, Trukai Industries, went into partnership with the Morobe Provincial Government and farmers to grow local rice for the high number of PNG consumers.
“We are providing an amount of start-up assistance with machinery and knowledge,” says Agricultural Manager, Jarrod Pirrie.
Last week, Agriculture Minister, Tommy Tomscoll, visited the Chingwam fields. He said the way forward is private public partnerships like this one.
“It’s important that people release land, because your land is not valuable unless it brings you income, so what’s the point in disputing land,” said Minister Tomscoll.
The seven-hectare Chingwam fields will supply Trukai with thirty tonnes of unmilled rice over the next several years.
The field is expected to generate fifteen K15,000 for local farmers over that period of time.