By MALUM NALU
Fresh Produce Development Agency general manager Mark Worinu says the K2.5 million Yapai potato project at Laiagam in Enga is the first of its kind in the country.
He said after the launching of the project in Yapai last Friday that local entrepreneur Sam Talepakali and his people had met about 60 per cent of costs while FPDA had chipped in the balance in both cash and kind through technical expertise.
Worinu said the Yapai project was “very important as far as far as the potato seed multiplication programme is concerned”.
“This is a project that will add value to what we are doing, particularly the potato seed programme in the country,” he said.
“We’ve had a challenge in terms of pests and diseases affecting our usual set-up in Tambul (Western Highlands), so we have been looking for new locations in the country to establish seed centres.
“This (Yapai) is one of the areas that we have identified.
“Our team, over the last two years, has been working with the local stakeholders, particularly Sam Talepakali and his community, who have been very supportive.
“We’ve had eight council wards coming together and giving their fertile and arable land.”
Worinu said this was shown in the launching of the seed potato multiplication centre as well as the largest commercial potato farm in the country.
“We (FPDA) believe that we have established a platform that will take the industry to the next level,” he said.
“That particular community has been known for tribal fights, and the Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas has been urging them to put aside their difference, stop the tribal fights.
“The project is a dream come true for him as the person in charge of the province.
“One of the key things we want to see for our communities is that if we don’t meaningfully allow them to participate in agriculture, they would be involved in social disorder, particularly tribal fights.
“This project, we believe, will change their mindsets and they will be concentrating on farming and selling their produce to the markets.
“Tribal fighting will obviously be reduced or even eradicated completely.”
By MALUM NALU