by Scot Waide – EM TV, Lae
Fresh concerns are being raised about the need to revive Morobe’s smallholder cattle industry after years of neglect.
The head of the government agriculture station in Erap on in the Markham Valley, Ralph Yamb, says there has to be a concerted effort to breed new cattle in Papua New Guinea.
In the 1970s, Papua New Guinea had a thriving smallholder cattle industry. The Markham Valley was home to some of the country’s largest cattle stock.
But over the years, poor government support to the industry, coupled with limited management expertise, resulted in the demise of smallholder cattle farms.
Ralph Yamb has seen the demise of the cattle industry and agriculture in general.
“We used to have more than 100 thousand head of cattle,” he said. “Those numbers have dwindled to about 30 thousand.”
The government’s farm at Erap is one example of years of government neglect over many years. The buildings are dilapidated and the farm’s operations are a shadow of its glory days in the 1970s.
In the last three years, officers here have been working with limited resources to breed new livestock.
On this cattle farm, there has been success; for the first time in many years, new cattle are being born. Many of these cows are pregnant and expect to give birth this year. It is encouraging news amidst the negative.
The Morobe provincial government has since taken steps to assists local farms regain control of the industry. But it will be a long road ahead for many.