Bongu rice farmer shows way to grow

National, Normal

The National, Friday 10th Febuary 2012

SMALLHOLDER rice farmers in rural pockets of the country where the land is ideally suitable for rice cultivation are doing exceptionally well.
One such farmer is William Wageng.
The father of three and his wife Rudy grow rice as an alternate food source. He also grows other food crops and vegetables in their garden at Bongu in the Astrolabe Bay area of Madang province.
Last week Wageng brought 60kg of grain rice from their one hectare garden to the Department of Agriculture and Livestock mill in Madang to be turned into white rice for his family.
“I’ve not been buying rice from the trade store since last year because I grow, harvest and store my own rice grain at home,” Wageng said.
He said rice was a staple food for many families in PNG.
He encouraged rural farmers to seriously cultivate rice as an alternative crop to their traditional food crops such as yams, taro and banana.
“Many rural people beam with smile when a plate of rice is placed in front of them,” Wageng said.
“My children also enjoy rice. I make sure I cultivate a hectare in my garden every time to plant rice for my family so we can have rice for our meals.”
Wageng last week invited agriculture officers from the Ramu NiCo community affairs department to his garden at Bongu.
Senior agriculture officer Aldam Bande and Munia Lulug were impressed with what Wageng was doing
He blends his “indigenous” knowledge with basic scientific methods to cultivate the rice varieties supplied by the National Agriculture Research Institute at Bubia near Lae.
Bande notes that Wageng had planted rice variety introduced by NARI called T15, T16 and T17 plus the dwarf rice variety called TSC 10.
He said Ramu NiCo agriculture officers had introduced rice to people in project impact areas from Kurumbukari, Maigari Inland Pipeline, Coastal Pipeline and Basamuk areas.
The tall variety dry land rice in coastal areas such and Madang take five months before it is ready for harvesting.
The rice at time of planting must be spaced 40cm apart. The yield from that can fetch four tonnes.
The short variety must be planted 20cm to 30cm apart. A one hectare garden can yield four tonnes of rice.