K5million to revive potato industry

National, Normal

MALUM NALU in Mt Hagen

TAMBUL, Western Highlands, the former potato capital of Papua New Guinea, yesterday received a major boost with the opening of 12 potato screen houses.
This follows on from Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare’s visit to Tambul earlier this month at which he made a commitment of K5 million to revive the potato industry there.
The aphid (potato pest)-proof houses, valued at K50,000 each, were funded by the National Government’s public investment programme (PIP) and will be managed by the Fresh Produce Development Agency.
They are situated next to the National Agriculture Research Institute’s high altitude programme at Tambul.
The 12 new screen houses add to the existing 12 and will be a major boost to PNG’s K100 million potato industry as it makes a comeback from the devastation of the notorious Potato Late Blight Disease of 2003, which almost destroyed the industry in the country.
Hundreds of people gathered at Tambul, beneath the majestic Mt Giluwe, to witness the opening of the screen houses by Tambul-Nebilyer MP Benjamin Poponawa.
Potato plantlets from the tissue culture laboratory at Aiyura Valley in Eastern Highlands province would be taken to Tambul, where they would be grown in the screen houses before being distributed.
This technology allows FPDA to produce disease-free seedlings which could rapidly multiplied before being distributed to farmers.
“Thank you for choosing Tambul to carry out this experiment,” Mr Poponawa said.
“Tambul is a small place but it can feed Papua New Guinea.
“I want the Government to pump more money into agriculture, and into the rural areas like Tambu.”