Taro farmers demand govt recognition

National, Normal

THE MOROBE Taro Cooperative members last Friday turned up at the provincial head quarters in Top Town with the fruits of their labour and demanded help.
Deputy chairman of the co-operative Ottu Giria and her members showed up with bundles of taro that they had been farming as an organisation.
The organisation was set up in 2008 for farmers around Lae to go into large-scale taro farming.
It drew the support of Morobe Governor Luther Wenge who pledged to support their efforts.
The provincial administration provided technical assistance but the group was demanding recognition from the government.
“We need a vehicle, container coolers, subsidised freight cost and organise a market for us to kick start the business,” the cooperative deputy chairwoman Mota Apu said.
The farmers organised a conference at PDAL office witnessed by programme adviser Ottu Giria and Labuta president and provincial chairman for women Jack Kahu last Thursday.
“Taro truly is the staple for Morobe. The women naturally plant it for their household. But that is subsistence activity. We must move up to semi-commercial scale,” women in agriculture development coordinator Margaret Titus said.
She said almost 30,000 women in the nine districts were involved in taro farming in which a farmer plants 10,000 taro shoots per hectare.
However, lack of road and transportation limit the programme to Buhalu and Situm in Nawaeb and Ngasuampum in Huon Gulf districts.
The women were promoting the three species Nomkocwi, Lae yellow and green which they believed was cheap, affordable and demanding.