by Adelaide Kari – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The local Manus rice growers have been given a boost after the opening of its new rice milling plant at Tamat near Lorengau town.
Director for Food Security with the National Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Mr Brown Konabe, encouraged farmers to go into rice production to feed the mill which has a capacity of 750 kg per hour.
Manus and Milne Bay are two of the provinces who are currently undergoing the smallholder rice project with assistance from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
Madang and East Sepik Province piloted the initial stage of the rice project since 2003 and was proven to be successful.
Manus Governor, Charlie Benjamin, told the gathering that as an island province, food security was important.
Rice has become the leading staple diet in Papua New Guinea together with sago and other garden food.
He thanked the people of Japan, through JICA, in helping to fund this mill with assistance from the Manus Provincial Government.
Konabe said the Minister for Agriculture and Live Stock, Tommy Tommcoll, has put a ban of poultry imports and rice might face the same fate if local production meets the demand.
Deputy Governor, John Popot, officially opened this new facility costing K300,000.