AGRO-BUSINESSMAN and strong potato advocate Grame Ross of Alele Farm Fresh Produce says potato has the best returns in agriculture.
He stressed that with 86% profit margin, the industry was worth more than K100 million aside from being a guaranteed source of food security for Papua New Guinea.
Mr Ross (pictured above) was speaking during the recent opening of Fresh Produce Development Agency’s potato screen houses in Tambul, Western Highlands province.
“The potato is the crop with the best return in Papua New Guinea,” he said, quoting potato experts.
Mr Ross said growers had a big need for quality seeds and that many were crying for them (quality seeds).
He said the newly-set up potato screen houses were a “big step forward”.
“Before 2003, we were importing a lot of seeds from Australia … but today, we are independent in seed production.
Mr Ross lamented they “don’t have good seed distribution channel,” and batted for equal distribution (of seeds) among potato producers across the country.
“There must be equal distribution in Papua New Guinea … the seed industry is a new one, which can be worth up to K46 million annually.
At the same time, Mr Ross had stressed the need for grower’s training.
“There is an urgent need for training, especially in areas such as safety when using chemicals,” he said.
Eastern Highlands agricultural adviser John Sari said potato was the best bet for farmers in high-altitude areas of PNG.
“Tambul has the ideal climate for growing potatoes, being situated 2,000m above sea level where coffee does not grow well,” he said.
“There is now light at the end of the tunnel.
“Potato would one day beat coffee and cocoa,” Mr Sari said.