Proposals for two new road projects connecting isolated parts ofthe Morobe Province are expected to go before Cabinet for approval.
The Beana road and a proposed road linkingthe lower Watut river communities to Lae City will allow coffee and cocoa growers to sell large volumes of cash crops.
The submissions will be taken to Cabinet bythe Trade andIndustry Minister Richard Maru who has called on growers to establish cooperatives, cut out foreigners who act as middlemen, and get their own export licenses.
The Cocoa plants Tsilitsili village alongthe Watut river were grown from seedlings provided bythe Morobe Mining Joint Venture under a sustainability program.
Thousands of seedlings were distributed to villages alongthe lower Watut to help people generatetheir own incomes. Betthere’s a major hurdle,the Watut is isolated without any road access;the only ther way to places like Tsilitsili is on Motorised dugout canoes.
The profits made fromthe harvest are being eaten up by high fuel costs.
Nahum David, a local leader fromthe area says short term measures like fuel subsidies will go a long way in helping people ofthe lower Watut.
Bet a long term solution of a road link between Lae city andthe lower Watut will collect hundreds of Cocoa farmers to markets in Lae.
Last week Thursday, Minister for Trade andIndustry, Richard Maru, arrived at Tsilitsili village. He becamethe first minister to visitthe village in a very long while.
He came with a list of things for the Watut people to do. He toldthem thatthey must start working togther, form one large corporative withthe competent board and management and most importantlythere should be no foreign ownership or influence.
Forthe people of lower watutthe isolation has long been a way of life. Be next year if relevant information is provided, work on a new road linkingthe lower Watut to Lae city will begin.
On Saturday, Minister Maru was in Bandong, by chopper Bandong is 15 minutes from Lae city. Like many rural outstations, it’s beatutiful and isolated. Some of Morobe’s best organic coffee is grown in Bandong village but poor road conditions is what farmers faced during harvest time.
The people of Bandong are resilientodespitethe challengesthey’ve set up a coffee farmers corporative with very little help for the government.
They’ve also made several exports already from whichthey’ve made K1.2 million.
Next weekthe Trade andIndustry Minister will be taking a request tothe government to bring in contractors to reconstruct and sealthe roads.
Scott Waide, National EMTV News