By: Elizabeth Guka – EMTV News Cadet Journalist, Port Moresby
A rice harvest took place last week at 14 mile, where PNG’s Agriculture and Livestock Minister Benny Allan and Philippines Ambassador to PNG, Dr. Bien Tejano, officially harvested the second batch of harvest from the rice project in Port Moresby. The rice project is part of an agreement signed between the PNG and Philippines Governments, and is currently on its first trial stage.
The official harvest by Minister Allan and Ambassador Tejano marks the start of a new era for advancement in commercial rice production in PNG. According to ambassador Tejano, this rice project has shown that PNG shows great promise in terms of growing and producing rice in the country.
“What we have been looking for is just the evidence that this country can truly grow your own rice. “You can feed your own people,” he said.
The rice project was initiated 3 months ago, with 25 hectors of rice being planted as trial. About 19 skilled local Filipino rice farmers and machine technicians were brought in from the Philippines to assist in the project. Upon that, local farmers in Port Moresby have also been trained to plant rice, with the first harvest to be ready early next year.
Ambassador Tejano said, “It started with 19 Filipino technicians, but we noticed that there were so many Papua New Guineans who are eager to learn.”
So far, Minister Allan says that the PNG government has allocated eight million kina for the continuation of this project next year. “The cabinet has approved an eight million kina (k8 million) for this project. “We look forward to getting this funding early next year,” said Minister Allan.
Currently, the rice project is being trialed on land belonging to the Pacific Adventist University located outside Port Moresby. However, due to the success of this project, there are plans on expanding this project to other parts of the country, with assistance from Philippines in terms of training of local PNG rice farmers.
Minister Allan added, “It’s a demonstration farm. “The main purpose is for us to bring farmers from central, southern, and other parts of Papua New Guinea to do training here, where they will be trained using the technology from the Philippines. “Philippines are going to give us the technology and the skilled man-power to help us train our local farmers.”
The trial of this rice project will attract investors from abroad to invest into such projects in the near future.