Farmers at Mt. Wilhelm in the Chimbu Province are facing difficulties in bringing their produce to the markets, because of blocked roads caused by landslides.
The owner of Betty’s lodge and trout farm, Betty Higgins and another potato farmer John Banda say their businesses have been suffering and so have the services in the area.
Higgin’s breeds trout at her fish farm and supplies fingerlings to fish farmers in the Eastern, Western, and Southern Highlands Provinces and also supplies fish to hotels and restaurants.
This however has been on hold since March starting with the COVID-19 lockdown, followed by landslides caused by heavy rains.
“They [her customers] need to come and pick up their fingerlings, and with the road closed, they are unable to come and pick up their fingerlings here…they can’t have access to come up.”
In April, heavy rains in the area caused a mudslide in Kegesuglo, near the Mt. Wilhelm Secondary school.
Ten people were killed, and trade stores, gardens, houses, including roads and bridges, were damaged.
The road has since been blocked, affecting locals and businesses who depend on the road link.
“I’m sitting on orders now, I have to supply the hotels and restaurants… I can’t deliver. I can’t take fish out and put it on a plane to Port Moresby because the road is cut off. I am unable to get diesel up and pack the fish and get it to market” says Betty.
Betty isn’t the only farmer struggling to continue supplying fish to her customers.
Another farmer Peter Banda and his wife Rose are potato farmers and seed suppliers.
They are also faced with the challenge of transporting their produce, because of the blocked road.
“I have three hundred of potatoes to dig. The seeds are still in the soil and its difficult for me to transport it out. I am disappointed that the authorities are not addressing this.”
Both farmers have called on the responsible authorities to help fix the road so that services can continue into the area.
“The provincial and district government must address this. They promised to supply us with diesel but we’ve been waiting for two months and I’m disappointed” Banda said.
Higgin’s has also called for the support from the National Fisheries Authority and the National government.