Rigo orchid man eyes KL exposition

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday 24th November 2011

A YOUNG Papua New Guinean father has a dream to win a major international award in an international orchids expo – possibly next year – in Malaysia.
Using his meager salary as a public servant at the Department of Provincial Affairs, Gitu Lago of Rigo in Central province, started a “native only” orchid nursery at his Lebogoro village, about two and half hours drive east of Port Moresby.
Two of his brothers who used to work for PNG Gardener and experienced in orchid growing joined him.
They set up the nursery early this year with the help of a K5,000 loan from the National Deve­lopment Bank.
It was officially laun­ched by Miss PNG Rachael James and some Bank South Pacific staff last month. 
On Saturday, his company, Native Orchids Ltd, will have its first display of the native products at the Port Moresby craft market at Ela Beach School and is expected to be a big attraction.
“We have a total of 15 native Rigo species, which we will sell at the craft market – several are very rare,” Lago said.
“We wanted the nursery to be at home because of benefits such as free water and land,” he told The National yesterday
The Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce had found Australian volunteer Garry Kennedy to help him to draw up a five-year and 10-year business plan and another Australian volunteer Barry Fletcher came through last August “to help us develop the nursery to where it is today”.
Lago is the business manager and his brothers Joe and Kobby are based at the nursery in the village.
Kobby is the specialist orchid grower who knows exactly what amount of fertiliser to apply to each crop.
Asked where the orchids were collected for the nursery, Lago said: “The orchids are actually collected from the jungles by villagers and sold to us.”
Lago said the income provided for their children’s school fee and other household needs.
Those who attended the opening of the native orchid nursery on Oct 30 included James, first secretary for Rigo MP’s office Veari Maha; Julie Frazer, BSP corporate manager; director at Emron Consultant Ted Rowley; and Leka Mou, who is director-Southern Region Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
Lago said they will start growing orchids to have them ready for mid-2012 orchid shows.
“We will definitely participate from 2012 onwards… we are preparing now and started growing orchids for the Malaysian show … we will have the best grown orchids for that show,” he said.
“We will be there with our unique and rare native PNG species. Currently we have five very rare species in our nursery specifically for Malaysia show,” Lago said.