THE Pangia government station in Southern Highlands, a short drive from Pangia to the capital Ialibu, is touted as the best government station in PNG.
According to the 2011 census, Pangia had a population of 63,478.
Ialibu-Pangia was once one of the least developed in Southern Highlands before former Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was elected as its MP in 2002.
O’Neill, from remote South Wiru’s Mamuane Village in South Wiru, Pangia, had spoken and written about the difficulties he faced growing up.
O’Neill had initiated various infrastructural development projects, thus raising the status of Ialibu-Pangia’s development index.
Some of the notable achievements to date are:
- IALIBU-PANGIA O’Neill Highway sealing;
- ALL feeder roads in Ialibu-Pangia district;
- IALIBU administration building;
- PANGIA administration building;
- MAJOR infrastructural development for Ialibu and Pangia secondary schools;
- POLICE housing development;
- ESTABLISHMENT of the Western Pacific University; and
- OPENING of a new district court house.
The airstrip in Pangia is being developed in stages, while an Israeli-run vegetable project is ready for production next month.
Funding is given to all basic school infrastructural development for all primary and elementary schools and health facilities are also seeing improvements.
The completion of the Pangia-Wiru loop road is a game changer for Pangia-Wiru, linking remote areas and giving access to villagers to services and markets in town.
In remote Pangia, a new multi-million kina building is rising to help transform this backwater into a significant contributor to PNG’s agriculture production and industry.
The building houses the Highlands Agriculture Industrial Centre (AIC), a fully mechanised frozen fruits and vegetables facility, equipped with Individually Quick Freezing (IQF) processing lines, the first of its kind in PNG and the entire Pacific Region.
Hundreds of farmers in PNG’s Highlands, spanning from Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Enga and to Southern Highlands are participating in an out-growers programme to supply potatoes to the AIC.
It is a 50:50 joint venture (JV) of the Southern Highlands Provincial Government (SHPG) and Innovative Agro Industry Ltd (IAI), backed by US$14 million (K47 million) funding by Israel’s Export Credit Agency “ASHRA” and Israel’s “IDB” bank.
AIC technical manager Yoshi Dolburd, an Israeli, is the expert testing out the machinery to produce French fries from local potatoes.
“It is one of a kind in PNG. It is good for the growers, good for the provinces, and good for agriculture progress and development.
“We are going to have many local workers and providing steady income for local farmers. Our demand for potatoes will be huge and we hope that farmers can ensure steady and uninterrupted supply,” he added.
Dolburd has been in Pangia for the last three months preparing the factory for its maiden production of French fries for marketing next month.
“We now have 40 factory workers with manpower set to balloon when production starts,” he said.
Hombunaka … change and innovate to transform
Agriculturalist Potaisa Hombunaka, who has been associated with IAI since it started operations in PNG in 2012, says the way forward for PNG agriculture is the use of innovative technology to grow the industry.
“We must change and innovate our operations to transform into international standards in agriculture production.
“When PNG is able to produce enough for domestic consumption and even for exports, our import bills will diminish, thereby raising our financial reserves,” he added.