Making rice farming grow to a new level


SURVEYING the vast rice fields of Markham Valley, Sunrice and Trukai Industries board directors see the key role Trukai plays in the development  commercial rice farming in Papua New Guinea.
Sunrice and Trukai Industries directors travelled to the Markham Valley rice project, established with the cooperation of the Chingwam Rice Growers’ Cooperative.
The board was met by members of the Chingwam Co-operative on the new development site near Rangiampum Village.
During the tour, a cheque for K84,700 for the purchase of 140 tonnes of rice harvested in May was presented to Chingwam Rice Growers Co-operative by Trukai Industries.
Trukai’s ever-evolving partnership with the local farming community is evident. The results of Trukai providing local farmers with training in commercial rice production methodology, and most importantly the finished rice product set for households around the country, were all on display.
Sunrice boss Rob Gordon – who is also a Trukai director – Sunrice chairman Laurie Arthur and several directors from both Sunrice and Trukai were met by Michael Maran, the chairman of Chingwam Rice Growers’ Cooperative, and John Maran, the cooperative’s project coordinator.
Other members and leaders of the Rangiampum community and Chingwam Rice Growers’ Cooperative were present, with Niugini Strategic Services’ Bernard Maladina, Trukai Rice Development manager Humphrey Saese and Trukai GM-Agriculture Jarrod Pirie. The occasion was an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the project’s progress over the previous two years – and get an indication of what is involved in the project expansion for this year and the potential for further expansion into the future.
“This a significant milestone in the development of our rice industry in Papua New Guinea. The project has progressed from a ‘pilot testing’ to a whole new level in rice farming in the country,” said Saese.
“This project involved an initial pilot testing of 10 hectares in 2015 and saw the successful cropping and delivery of 20 tonnes of rice.
“Expansion into a slightly larger area of 40ha in the 2016-17 cropping season delivered over 140 tonnes of paddy now in storage for milling.”
Trukai is currently expanding to a 500-plus hectare rice plantation near Rangiampum and the site will be progressively expanded to 2000 hectares over a number of seasons, subject to relevant agreements and climatic and soil evaluations.
Trukai’s contribution involved significant costs for machinery and consumable procurement, staff recruitment and training, maintaining positive relationships and mitigating any issues that would have a negative impact on the project
As rice development manager for Trukai, Saese is now reaping the rewards of 15 years of planning and labour in Markham Valley.
“I have worked for over 15 years in the Markham Valley in Papua New Guinea on promoting and encouraging farmers to grow rice. There has never been a moment like today when we are able see farmers get support to grow rice but more importantly to actually see kina being paid,” he said.
“We have a positive community response from this commercial project with overwhelming interest from farmers and landowners in the valley who are keen to give their land for rice farming.”