RICE farming has the potential to become a major income earner for the rural folk, Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC) farm operations manager Rueben Meiya said.
It has an advantage over coffee, which is the major income earner for rural communities in the Highlands, because it is not a seasonal crop, he said.
The CLTC in Banz in North Waghi district, Western Highlands province, started offering one-year training for those interested in rice farming in 2008.
“The demand for rice is higher than the supply. Therefore, the rural folk should venture in rice farming.
“To encourage rice farming, the college buys mills and packed rice.
“Its end product, called Waghi Rice, is distributed to the Waghi Valley High School, Fatima Secondary School and retail outlets in the province,” he said.
Mr Meiya said the college would buy unpolished rice for 40t per kilo and its main customers at the moment were the local communities in the surrounding Wara Karr area.
“After milling and packing, a 1kg packet of Waghi Rice is sold for K3.50 to K4 at the college and retail outlets. We are selling between six and seven tonnes per month,” he said.
Mr Meiya said supply was short of demand because most of the rice was consumed by students.
“There are not enough local farmers and expertise to meet the demand,” he said, adding that the college had other rice projects in the Southern Highlands and East Sepik provinces.
CLTC is the unit of the churches of the South Pacific that trains men and women for Christian ministry and leadership, and also has other centres in Lae and Port Moresby.
It was established in 1965 by the Melbourne Bible Institute after receiving an invitation by evangelical missions and church leaders in the country.