By Vasinatta Yama – EM TV News, Mt Hagen
While the economy is in its trying times, a Local Level Government President is leading by example and has ventured into the farming business to sustain his livelihood.
Imbongu LLG President, Tapolye Natil, recently displayed his harvest at the opening of a National Agricultural Research Institute centre at Walum station in Southern Highlands Province.
Natil is encouraging Papua New Guineans to make use of their land to earn money. President Natil is a leader during working days, and a farmer when he is off official duties on weekends.
Mr Natil is known as one of the most successful farmers in Southern Highlands Province; with over 30 pigs, a countless number of roosters and hens that lay up to 100 eggs per week. He said he needs to lead by example so that his people can follow.
The LLG President said after realizing that bulb onions have a market in PNG, he started growing them with other cash crops like cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and wheat. He said he uses pig’s waste as fertilizers for the crops, and wheat as stock feed for the chickens and the pigs. He tried to farm rice, but the weather did not allow it to grow.
NARI representatives say bulb onion, potato, and ‘kaukau’ (sweet potato) are emerging crops in the market. The Agricultural Institute is now focusing on training farmers to grow the three food crops, to meet the market demands.
While bulb onions in supermarkets can cost K6 to K7 per kilo, Mr Natil is selling them for K2 and K3 at the local markets.
Imbongu MP, Pila Niningi encouraged his people to farm to sustain their livelihoods. Mr Niningi said he is also in dialogue with the Fisheries Minister to fund a fish farming project for his electorate.
He urged his people to maintain a constant supply of produce to attract buyers. Mr Natil echoed his statement and added that local farmers need to coordinate well, in order for this to happen.