Friday, March 27, 2009

Insect farm closes without warning

By PISAI GUMAR

 

INSECT Farming and Trading Agency (IFTA), the only insect collection, farming and trading agency in Papua New Guinea, has shut its operation in Bulolo, The National reports.

An insider, who requested anonymity, said last week the agency had laid off five employees without paying their final entitlements for reasons that were unknown.

The source said the agency shifted its operations to the rainforest habitat at the University of Technology in Lae last November. IFTA now owed insect farmers around the country, including those in Buka, Highlands, Oro, Sepik and parts of Morobe, payments for insects sold to it, the source said.

“It had also failed to notify the farmers of its new location,” the source said.

The insider said the Unitech Development Consultancy (UDC) shut down IFTA at Bulolo without prior arrangement and notice.

“It’s a slap in the face for the five women and the farmers who had contributed to the agency and the country,” the source said.

“The reasons for their actions remain unknown.”

The closure has left many rural insect farmers in a spot.

Most of them have been checking on the old office, only to find its doors locked.

Insect farming is a thriving business in the country – insect art frames are sold locally and dried species are exported to several countries.

It has collected and identified more than 7,000 species of butterflies and other insect species, including the largest Alexandra butterfly, the largest Hercules moth and largest wingless stick insect.

Attempts to get comments from UDC director Jeffery Zuzu were unsuccessful.

Another source said the company relocated to solve logistical problems.

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