By SYLVIA PERSATA
UPNG Journalism student
CHRISTOPHER Tep is well-versed in everything agriculture – including how to assist crops and plants grow and mature quickly.
He introduced a fertiliser named Grow Hariap which is becoming popular with farmers. As the name suggests, it improves soil fertility thus crops can mature quicker.
“The Grow Hariap fertiliser is 100 percent organic and produce locally. It is the only SME producing and selling liquid plant fertiliser in PNG.
“It is made from local plants and can be used on vegetables, crops, nuts, greens, spices, cocoa, coffee and coconut. It can also be used on flowers, ferns and trees.”
Christopher, 49, is from Baisu village in Hagen Central, Western Highlands.
He obtained a Diploma in Agriculture and Breeding from the open College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in Oro. He continued his studies at the East Sepik Agricultural College.
He has been a specialist in agriculture extension and development and a specialist in plant breeding for 31 years.
He worked with the Department of Agriculture, PNG Cocoa and Coconut Research Institute and Lae Tech PNG Cocoa and Coconut Research Agency.
He spent 15 years with the institute and was also involved in the PNG LNG project.
He spent the past 10 years on research and developing the fertiliser, apart from being involved in research extension and development programmes in rural areas.
“I observed the disastrous effects of climate change, the increasing population and the pressure it has on food production in PNG. Food must be constantly produced and of good quality to sustain the growing population.
“ Famers are already getting a significant increase in production in the field. I never expected farmers to now getting 20 to 30 percent increases in their volume of crops.”
“With the disastrous effects of climate change, the amount of food produced has declined or remained constant while the population has increased.”
He began working on the fertiliser in 2009.
This year, he finally released the first commercial product. It hit the market in March.
He has a processing facility in Port Moresby. The products is sent to other parts of the country. He estimates that more than 5,000 farmers have used it.
“This is a good number although it may not be big when compared to the 8.7 million people of PNG. But it’s a good start.”
He is confident it will get more popular as word gets around.
“All we need to do is to make it accessible to famers and find retailers around the country who will easily interact with the farmers.”
He plans to produce a thousand liters a month but may increase according to demand.
He is also looking at upgrading the plant to cater for increased production when the need arises. He needs to invest more in capital.
“Famers are already getting a significant increase in production in the field. An increase by more than five percent is already a big increase. But I never expected farmers to now be getting 20 to 30 percent increases from their regular volume of crops.”
He believes that sustainable development is very important to PNG famers. He urges them to use products that will help them earn a better income to sustain their livelihood from the same piece of land they have been using many years.
Christopher is also happy that his small business is growing hariap too.