Food production picking up, expert says

The National,Thursday June 23rd, 2016

DOMESTIC food production has picked up since the drought subsided, according to Dr Mike Bourke.
Bourke, an expert on agriculture, told The National yesterday that it was helping people who depended on the sale of vegetables from the Highlands.
He said export crops had not been affected much.
“We’re getting more and more domestic food marketing, particularly out of the Highlands into the lowlands, Moresby to some degree, but particularly to Lae and Madang, even to West New Britain and East New Britain,” Dr Bourke said.
“A lot of food is moving domestically.”
He said the drought affected a lot of food production, particularly in the Highlands.
“People were trying to grow food to sell but they couldn’t because of the drought,” Dr Bourke said.
“That’s coming back now.
“We’re seeing the return of domestic food production in the Highlands.”
Dr Bourke said more fresh vegetables were being grown and sold around the country, including betel nut.
“This is growing and it’s been going for 40 or 50 years,” he said.
“It really accelerated after 1997 when the Kina went south (devalued).
“There was a lot more domestic food being grown.
“In the Highlands, coffee production is fairly static, and people are moving into marketing fresh food.
“A lot of food is sold locally, but also sold in the lowlands, particularly in Morobe and Madang.”
Bourke said while he did not have the figures, “at this stage it seems the impact will not be very great”.
“Oil palm in Ramu Valley may have been knocked around a little bit, but the rest of oil palm seems okay,” he said.
“As far as coffee, cocoa, copra and rubber go, the drought does not seem to have knocked them around by a huge amount.”