Locals testify to social changes after agriculture project’s inception

Business

THE establishment of the Enga Agro Industries in Surunki, Enga, has helped alleviate many social issues in the area since the project was established, locals says.
The project was an initiative of the Enga government and the Israeli Agro Industries.
Nori Kome, a local Makol tribe, said the establishment of the Enga Agro Industry project had forced the local people, who had been in conflict among themselves for many years, to stop and enter businesses after seeing cash flow from sales of potatoes to the company.
“Since the establishment of the project in 2016, the project has contributed significantly to improving the lives of the people,” he said.
Kome said the locals received training from the company on how to plant potatoes and supply quality produce to the company.
Kome said the potatoes were loaded onto big trucks with coolers and then transported to Pangia in Southern Highlands where the processing plant was.
Kome, who is a driver with the Israeli company, said mothers were also employed by the company to plant, weed and harvest strawberries from the company’s farm.
He said he drove three hours to Kagamuga airport in Western Highlands to airfreight the boxes of strawberries to Port Moresby.
They also send strawberries for export to Singapore via Lae from where it is shipped.
Local women Mali Soran and Yuni Muku, who had been employed to work on the strawberries, said they were paid fortnightly to plant, spray insecticides, cover the plants at night, and pick and pack. They said several other women from the local community were also employed to work on the bulb onion, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower plots.
They said the women worked on a regular basis so they earned money while others who grew potatoes were also paid when they sold their produce to the company.
Soran and Muku said people had benefited from an increased cash flow in the community.
They said people were gradually building better houses and improving their lives.
“While we buy potatoes from the locals, we also provide training for the local on how to produce the two types of potatoes. We buy 15 tonnes a week and 60 tonnes a month,” Tziberman said.
“We pay K2 per kilo and that is a good price.”
Tziberman said the biggest challenge for them was airfreight and electricity, especially the strawberries as they had to keep the cooling system on fuel generators for 24 hours basis which he said was an expensive exercise.

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