By PISAI GUMAR
CATTLE herders in the Wampar local level government area in Markham Valley, Morobe province, are the only custodians of the remaining cattle at the Markham farms distributed to 10 cattle farmers recently.
Health Minister Sasa Zibe, who is also the Huon Gulf MP, in whose district the cattle are being held, said in a media statement last Friday that despite the distribution of the remaining cattle, “so much incorrect information was circulated in the media about restocking of cattle from the Markham farms”.
Mr Zibe said all cattle were bought by Department of Agriculture and Livestock on the State’s behalf.
The purpose was to revitalise the run down cattle industry in the country.
However, the total number of cattle bought initially is unknown and not all cattle were distributed after the purchase.
Some cattle were left behind at Markham farms because the farmers at Markham Valley through their association, Wampar Small Holder Cattlemen Association (WSHCA), protested over being left out in the distribution and oppose all cattle leaving their land.
The protest was supported by Sialum Cattlemen Association in Tewai-Siassi district.
The first phase distribution was undertaken by the State-owned Livestock Development Corporation and the department.
The protest forced the department to hold back the cattle at Markham farms while the farm was sold. The move did not guarantee to safety of the cattle, some of which were being stolen.
The National Executive Council deliberated on the issue and directed the relevant ministers to ensure the safety of the cattle.
Mr Zibe said he was awaiting directions from Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Hickey to distribute “as per initial objectives of the National Agriculture Development Plan”.
The cattle were reallocated to 10 different ranches that make up the Zifasing cattle ranch.
He said the total number of cattle currently held was 4,175 and included 4,175 cows, 703 heifers, 109 mixed age bulls, 20 bulls, 728 steers and 398 calves.
“My involvement was in compliance with NEC directives as well as the agreements and understanding reached between my brother ministers,” Mr Zibe said.
“I want to assure the Government and the people of PNG, especially those in cattle industry, that the cattle moved to Zifasing ranch are in safe custody until Mr Hickey gives approval for distribution to their allotted destinations,” he said.