By GADI LING
IT’S the festive season and cocoa pod borer (CPB)-affected farmers within the Gazelle area of East New Britain province are rushing with their harvested rice to find mills for milling.
With the presence of the destructive cocoa disease, these farmers will have less income this festive season to spend on rice, a staple food.
As an alternative solution, they have started growing rice themselves in a bigger way for household consumption, including sustaining intake during celebration periods such as this Christmas/New Year season.
Rice is one of the important crops targeted for food security and income generation in cocoa integrated cropping systems in ENBP.
This is now identified as part of CPB management strategy for smallholders in East New Britain by the CPB management committee.
The promotion on dry land rice farming is being done by various research and development organisations in the province such as National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), Organisation for Industrial Spiritual & Cultural Advancement (OISCA), END division of primary industry (DPI), Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Cocoa Coconut Institute (CCI and University of Natural Resources and Environment’s (UNRE) Integrated Agriculture Training Programme (IATP). under Vudal University’s IATP training programme.
NARI’s Islands Regional Centre at Keravat and DAL Islands region have combined their efforts in promoting dry land rice growing in ENBP through multiplication and supply of quality seeds and providing a milling service to smallholders.
So far this year, NARI has supplied more than 200kg of recommended quality rice seeds and milled well over five tons of harvested rice.
For the last two weeks, well over one tonne was milled for the festive season alone.