The National –Wednesday, January 12, 2011
By BOSORINA ROBBY
Eastern Highlands, Enga, Central, Morobe, East New Britain and West and East Sepik provinces are now actively producing rice, thus boosting the grain’s supply in the country.
This became possible after these areas have been involved by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock in rice production for consumption and as source of additional income for the rice farming families.
This initiative by the government to increase emphasis on locally produced foodstuff is aimed at addressing the issue of food security in the country.
The ICCC Rice Industry review 2010 noted that rice could be used to address this as it could be grown and harvested three times a year.
When properly milled, treated and stored, the grain could last up to three years, the review said.
Known as “garden rice”, locally grown and milled rice is being sold in open markets and trade stores-wholesalers in some rural areas.
The review also said that production estimates received by ICCC on garden rice has averaged 10,000 metric tonnes (mt) per year since 2006.
Further consultations suggested that this number may have significantly increased in recent years with rice farming training and extension programmes being run by the DAL, and aid agencies and church-NGO groups, through a range of provincial agricultural divisions.
This trend is expected to continue, with DAL aiming to increase annual domestic production to 60,000mt by 2016.
ICCC forecasts that the increase in production and sale of garden rice has the potential to become a significant component of the formal market.