Recent Flooding highlights long neglect of vital Agriculture Station

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By Julie Badui Owa – EMTV News, Lae

The flooding of an important agricultural station in Morobe Province has revealed the years of neglect by the National Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL). The Food Security Station at Erap outside of Morobe, was once a central player in agriculture research and animal husbandry, but the station has deteriorated over 20 years, with many of the staff leaving for other jobs.

Food Security Officer, Richard Ngahan, who has lived at the station for 7 years says every year, they see less support coming from the National and Provincial Governments.

“We approached our headquarters in Port Moresby and the Provincial Government but we have not received any response from them,” he said.

The Erap station is a government institution that was used for livestock breeding, aquaculture and rice development.

Margaret Titus, a Rice Project Officer, from the Morobe Provincial Division of Agriculture and Livestock, stated that the Provincial Government is unable to support the station due to its own limited funding.

“We are connected because of the rice development program. With the current state of the station, this will affect the farmers involved in rice training.”

Over the weekend, staff at the site vacated their houses that became partly submerged after the Erap River burst its banks and flooded into the area. It’s a longstanding problem affecting an important government asset.

The paddocks are now empty and the bush has taken over. Squatters have also moved into the area to settle. The lack of funding is in vast contrast to annual government rhetoric of the importance of agriculture in Papua New Guinea.