Farmer switches from other businesses to rice farming

Business

SEVENTY-three-year-old farmer Wama Dama of Kalangnan village in the Nawaeb of Morobe is one of hundreds of people in his area that has switched from other agricultural and business activities to farming rice.
Before going into farming, Dama exported scrap metal from 1997 to 2002.
From there, he ventured into the truck hire business contracting to the construction industry.
“My perspective changed when I saw a local farmer who planted kaukau and sold her crops at the market receiving a 100 per cent profit from her farm,” Dama said.
“That changed my business mindset – I put in 100 per cent in land and I get a 100 per cent return – and unlike stores and formal employment, I would only make 10 or 20 per cent in profit.”
In 2015, Dama participated in an Australian government-supported family farm training programme to learn how to transition from subsistence to income-oriented farming.
Held as two separate week-long sessions, the training targeted the head of households who relied on farming income to care for their families.
Dama also farms vanilla beans, bananas, sweet potatoes and sells Morobe taro to stores in Port Moresby at K1.50 per kilo.
He currently owns nine hectares of land, of which, five is dedicated to rice farming with the remaining land for other crops.
Receiving training from various NGOs has also helped Wama’s agricultural ventures.
“Through family farms training, I am now able to better manage my money and bought a rice mill from my savings. I now mill my own rice, package and sell to people in my community,” he said.
Dama packages his rice in plastic bags and sells them at K3 in the local community and has plans for his owned branded rice.
Today, he advocates for men, women and families to work together to better their lives and cites the rice project as an example.
Rural development officer in the Labuta local level government inNawaeb Nelson Darina said to improve one’s standard of living, income generation from agricultural produce was based on sustainable agricultural practices and empowering farmers.
Over the past 12 months, 420 people, 55 per cent women, have been trained in Nawaeb and Mul-Baiyer Lumusa in Western Highlands in better farming techniques to help them progress from subsistence to cash crops. Dama was also part of the SiGo (Situm-Gobari) Cooperative that was supported by the Australian government to revive agricultural cash crops, especially cocoa, as a source of livelihoods and economic growth in the district.
As part of the cooperative, he has also shared rice seedlings and techniques with 20 other farmers in the Nabak LLG ward.
Positive about the future, Dama said: “It is time to help our families set goals and achieve them as a community.”

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