By GABRIEL LAHOC
MARKHAM rice farmers make up the biggest upland rice cultivation in Papua New Guinea, but say they need to improve their production and that this can only come through Government assistance.
Sixteen farmers now work communally on a 84ha block in the Changwam in the Atzera local level government area.
Outside of this arrangement, they individually own half-hectare blocks in where they produce rice for consumption.
They made known their needs to Government officials and agriculture specialists following the visit of a Food and Agriculture Organisation representative from the regional office in Samoa who are currently touring the country to check on existing projects and look at areas in need for assistance and improvements.
According to spokesman Walter Timothy, the farmers from the Atzera area with more than 4,000 people need tractors, power tillers and fuel in order to be more effective in cultivating to see increased local production.
Markham district administrator Bonage Bebinaso commended the Markham rice farming communities, especially Changwam farmers, and said the district’s tractor and diesel fuel was available for them.
Markham MP’s representative Peter Linibi assured that MP Koni Iguan, as the political leader, was committed to the agriculture sector in the district and his five-year development plan includes food security.
Other notable barriers to effective and increased production of rice in the area are the accessibility of road network into the different communities, and the establishment of a local rice market for local producers.
These areas will need more funding from the Government to assist the current effort by the Taiwan technical mission based in Lae who are currently training farmers and also moving into irrigation rice farming.