By Malum NALU
The Fresh Produce Development Agency is working towards making PNG self-sufficient in bulb onion production, says general manager Mark Worinu.
Onions made headlines at the end of last year and beginning of this year when a ban on imports imposed by Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tosmcoll, coupled with the drought, resulted in prices skyrocketing.
“We have been able to develop model farms and model farmers and create market linkages for them,” Worinu said during the release of the FPDA 2015 annual report on Tuesday.
“In the course of doing all this, we realised that we had to be more specific and more tailored.”
Worinu said FPDA was responsible for more than 60 horticultural crops and had to develop specific value chains, with the industry still in its “infant stage”.
“High on the priority list for us is potato, bulb onions, sweet potatoes (kaukau), tomatoes, ginger and all of those crops that have good economic returns.
Before 2005 all onions were imported, Worinu said.
“After 2005, you would have seen people selling bulb onion everywhere in the urban markets, thanks to the Department of Planning and Monitoring for giving us the needed funds to develop a pilot project at Gembogl in Chimbu.
“That project has achieved remarkable results.
“Planning guys went in there and they were convinced, and asked us to make a submission for extension programmes in 2010 and 2011.
“Now we have bulb onion extension programmes in East New Britain, Central, Hela, all over Papua New Guinea.
“Our target is to make sure that there are no imports coming.
Worinu said the major challenge was in post-harvest such as drying of bulb onions.
“We are really mindful of that and are working with provincial governments.
“A clear example is working with the Chimbu provincial government to establish Chimbu Farmers Marketing Ltd.
“We have a number of partnerships with provincial governments.”
By Malum NALU