by Kiwiana Ngabung – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
A project that started two years ago in the Baining area of East New Britain Province is now advancing into more than what it was initially set up to do.
The Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) International implemented a rainforest conservation project to help the people of Arabam, Raigel and Maranagi (ARM) wards. The OISCA-ARM Natural Rainforest Conservation Project launched in 2015 was to enable locals to protect their natural environment from illegal logging activities, preserve native plants and animals, and maintain the land to reap financial reward as well as societal development, through oil palm and cocoa plantations and the likes.
With the cooperation of the United Nations Developments Programme (UNDP) locals from the three wards have extensively progressed into cash crop farming and selling their produce either in markets around the Baining area or at Kokopo Town market. This is a major boost for them.
From toiling oil palm and cocoa plantations to something smaller in comparison yet fairly rewarding heightens the project’s objectives and is particularly gratifying for stakeholders involved.
“We are starting to see some big things happen as a result of UNDP’s involvement,” OISCA-ARM Natural Rainforest Conservation Project Coordinator, Raymon Joshua said.
Communities in Arabam, Raigel and Maranagi wards have embraced the project by practising organic farming – rice farming, growing cabbage, peanuts, moringa and cocoa. For them it is a means of meeting their financial needs but more so encourages community engagement, develops the potential (skills and talents) of individuals and presents more understanding of the significance of their land and other natural resources.
“The people are coming to realise the benefits of the OISCA-ARM natural rainforest conservation project through the crops they have planted,” Mr Joshua said.
OISCA International has an established training centre in Rabaul, East New Britain that does awareness on the environmental conservation as well as agricultural, animal husbandry , and health care training among others.