Rice demand high

National, Normal

THE growing demand for rice in the rural areas is one thing, but its ever-increasing price is a burden on people in these communities.
The Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) highlighted this yesterday but stressed that with arable land in abundance, rural rice farming and production for consumption can reduce this disparity, given the right technical training and available production equipment.
DAL working with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), started the rice development programme in 2003, to address this in Morobe, Eastern Highlands, East Sepik, Western, East New Britain, Oro and Central province.
Programmes manager John Jave said yesterday that this was proving a success in these areas.
Mr Jave said although the first phase of the programme ended last year it was giving milling and tilling machines to farmers in these areas.
He said the next phase of this programme would start in November next year.
Yesterday, two milling machines (which are the last ones) worth around K18,000, were officially handed over to the Menare people of Hiri-Koiari  local level government in Central province during a small ceremony at the provincial headquarters at Konedobu.
A memorandum of agreement was signed between DAL, the Central provincial administration and Hiri district officials to enable 28 Menare farmers to claim ownership of the two rice milling machines.
FAO PNG country representative, Brown  Konabe, who is also the director of the food security branch at DAL, said their programme was to assist FAO  efforts to ensure that developing countries maintained food security and achieve poverty alleviation.