By PETER ESILA
THE lack of roads is the most limiting factor to the development of agriculture, especially smallholders, in the country, according to the Hargy Oil Palms Limited.
General manager Graham King told the inaugural national agriculture summit this week in Port Moresby that smallholders remained the epicentre of growth in the agriculture sector.
“When you have the road, you’ve got to have the transport, and then you can start working on the agriculture infrastructures, fertilisers and other upkeep standards,” King said.
“Until you fix all other things, you are wasting your time talking to a didiman or a farmer, because if he does not have a road, he can’t sell his product.”
King said the government’s Oil Palm Industry Corporation’s (OPIC) extension services were poor.
“OPIC is the government’s statutory authority with the responsibility of providing small-holder extension,” he said.
“The OPIC is poorly managed. There is no government support. You need to communicate directly with the growers.”
King said that in 2014, Hargy Oil Palm Limited started to put together a team to assist OPIC in their extension efforts.
In January 2015, the OPIC board approved a private extension service for Bialla, where the company is located in West New Britain.
“The first thing we did was change the name from extension officers to agricultural advisers.
“The extension officers these days ride around and do not visit the smallholders.”
By PETER ESILA