Airfreight costs reason behind farmers’ struggles to sell produce


Fresh produce grows in abundance at remote Teptep along the Morobe-Madang border but cannot be taken to market because of high airfreight costs, a local farmer says.
Woman farmer Dopeo Philip, from Mangan village in Keweng, said bulb onions and garlic proliferated with apples, cabbages, potatoes, carrots, pak choi, broccoli, cauliflower, taro and banana, among others.
Philip was selling three bulb onions for 50t and three garlics for 10t when The National caught up with her at Teptep station on Sunday.
Her husband Philip is an elementary school teacher and they have three children, two girls and a boy.
“The problem we endure is road access to urban markets,” Philip said.
“We also have no proper local markets to sell our produce because air freight is K410 per passenger and K5 per kg of cargo.
“Whatever we grow is consumed locally, but it’s plentiful so most of this produce is just wasted and dumped.
“We keep growing more.”
It takes them a day and night to walk to Wantoat in the Markham Valley of Morobe and get on K30 truck to Lae.
Likewise, walk a day and night walk to Malalamai in Saidor, to get on K110 dinghy to Madang.
Philip said there were no agricultural officers at Nayudos local level government station at Teptep to educate farmers on farming vegetables and luring fresh produce markets in Lae, Madang and Port Moresby.
They use local subsistence gardening skills and knowledge to grow most vegetables.

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