Phytophtora blight or commonly known as “taro blight”, is the main cause withering taro leaves and affecting other garden food crops including yam and banana at Basamuk villages close to the Ramu NiCo Basamuk Refinery.
These were the preliminary findings from combined plant experts Yak Namaliu, Plant Pathologist, Waike Yasinge, Plant Agronomist from Cocoa Coconut Institute of PNG (CCRIPNG), and Moses Moruba from the Food Crops and Agriculture division of the Dept of Agriculture and Livestock in Madang province.
After a week’s assessment of villages and foods crops, the officials concluded that the crops were 100% affected by taro blight and not the alleged sulfuric gas from Basamuk Refinery.
The team also refuted a report by John Bivi from Madang Provincial Government’s Director of Mines that claimed that the villagers in the Rai Coast District were affected by the alleged gas emission.
The experts assured the locals that sulfur breaks down fast when released into the air and cannot cause any harm to human and the environment. They urged the locals not to panic.