Monday, March 30, 2009

Insect farm closure raises concern

By MALUM NALU in The National


CONCERNS have been raised from within and outside PNG following the recent closure of the Insect Farming and Trading Agency (IFTA) in Bulolo, Morobe province.

IFTA was the only insect collection, farming and trading agency in PNG.

Five employees had been laid off without receiving their final entitlements while IFTA had shifted its operations to Rainforest Habitat at the University of Technology in Lae.

Operators of Rainforest Habitat, Unitech Development and Consultancy (UDC), have been tightlipped over IFTA.

British scientist Rob Small, who in 2004 did his masters thesis on insect farming in PNG, warned in a paper in 2007 that IFTA was behind on payment to village-based ranchers and collectors.

Rising international demand from collectors for the insects of PNG, in particular the endemic birdwing butterflies, has been met since 1978 by the Government-sponsored IFTA.

“Until the onset in Papua New Guinea of large-scale logging and mining in the 1990s, and a crisis of governance, IFTA was widely regarded as a conservation and development success,” Mr Small wrote in an abstract of his 2007 paper.

“However, analysis of its trading records for 1995-2002 showed that this agency is now struggling to sustain payments to village-based ranchers and collectors.

“This failure, combined with the limited number of ranchers and collectors and their restricted geographical spread, casts some doubts on this model of sustainable conservation.”


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