The National – Tuesday, December 28, 2010
By AGNES FIFI UKI
ABOUT 1,000 people in the Minimb area in the Hagen Central district, Western Highlands, have been badly affected by hailstorm.
The hailstorm, accompanied with strong winds and rain, caused massive destruction to cash crops and food gardens last Wednesday and Thursday afternoon.
The Popral tribesmen, who normally supply daily fresh vegetables to Mt Hagen main market and even to restaurants in the city, said because of the storm, there would be a shortage of vegetables in the markets in the coming weeks.
The price of fresh vegetables at the market was also likely to increase.
The local farmers who visited The National last Friday said there were still thick ice blocks lying overnight on their vegetable gardens.
They said these ice blocks affected the roots of their cash crops causing them to die.
Community leader Peter Raima said the cost of damages was in the thousands.
Raima said on a daily basis, farmers supplied the market and restaurants in the city with cabbages, broccoli, carrot, potatoes and other vegetables.
He said the strong winds uprooted trees and also destroyed other food crops like banana trees, sugar cane gardens and many other crops planted but said they could not blame anyone because it was a natural disaster.
Raima said the lack of produce meant no income and the farmers were concerned about their children attending school next year because the schools normally asked the students to pay almost 50% of their fees before enrolling.
He said the money that came from the sale of vegetables was also used to meet medical expenses, buy household items and other necessities.
He said it would take them more than three months before they would recover after making new gardens.
Raima said they visited the provincial disaster office in Mt Hagen last Friday but did not get any help because the office was locked.
Meanwhile, village court magistrate Melpa Wama called on their local MP and Minister for Petroleum and Energy William Duma and Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga to assist them to rebuild their lives.