New facility to help highlands farmers improve produce


A NEW Farmer Resource Centre (FRC) was launched in Tambul, Western Highlands, last week,with the aim of accelerating the income generation of rural communities from agricultural produce
in the Highlands region.
According to the director general of Nari, Dr Sergie Bang, up to 25 per cent of total fresh produce was wasted, leading to a decline in the price received by farmers, for their produce.
Speaking at the launching, Bang said the challenge that confronted many to develop supply chains to urban markets was to ensure wastages were minimised to allow farmers to get the correct value for their produce.
Bang said in order to achieve this, more work was to be done to improve the market and supply cool chain systems so that the farmers could turn to subsistence farming.
“We have to lay the foundation now to move our farmers from subsistence to commercial entrepreneurs.
Our challenge is to transform about 70 per cent of the subsistence farmers into small-medium progressive agricultural entrepreneurs in the next 10 years,” Bang said.
He said the FRC launched in Tambul was one of 10 such facilities at selected sites in the seven highland provinces.
The members of these communities would now have access to vital information and planting materials required to boost their farm outputs.
“The focus of these FRCs were previously based around the three most important value chain crops in the region: sweetpotato, Irish potato and bulb onion.
“The facilities when in operation will now provide information and support in all other aspects of farming.
This will support the rural population to ensure food security and cash income opportunities for the farming community,” Bang said.
Bang also took the opportunity to thank the European Union (EU) delegation in the country for not only supporting this project but other important agricultural projects in the country.
EU head of delegation to PNG, ambassador Ioannis Giogkarakis- Argyropoulos, chief guest at the launching, echoed similar sentiments, saying the EU is ready to support activities associated with
growing the rural economy in PNG.
“It is where the majority of the population live and is where reality is” he said.
The launching of the Tambul FRC brings to date five facilities launched. Those launched include:
Asaro, EHP; Minj, Jiwaka; Baiyer, WHP, and Laiagam, Enga.
The remaining FRCs in Ialibu, SHP; Tari, Hela; Okapa, EHP; Gumine and Gembogl in Simbu will be launched in the coming weeks.
The FRC facilities have been developed through the agriculture component of the Rural Economic Development Programme Phase 2 in partnership with the Department of National Planning supported by the EU.

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