Caption: Farmer Apo Airo and FPDA horticulture advisor for Southern region Michael Atuai displaying vegetables that can be grown in Goilala
GOILALA area has been found to be the greatest potential producer of temperate vegetables in Central province.
This is according to a recent finding of an agricultural technical team that has been tasked by Central province Governor Alphonse Moroi.
The team was sent out to all districts of the province in February to establish an agricultural development database for Central province.
The team visited all the districts the province, talking to people and identifying their development constraints and possible intervention strategies.
Fresh Produce Development Agency was also part of this technical team, and was represented by Southern region horticulture advisor Michael Atuai.
The development of the database, according to Mr Atuai, would be to identify possible projects and a pairing matrix would be used to prioritise projects.
With the identification of possible projects aimed at improving rural livelihoods, partnerships would be established with organisations and individuals with common interest to help the rural people of Central province.
Mr Atuai said “One of the major areas would be the LNG market and the need to establish potential production areas, improve the market chain and provide technical assistance, by sourcing both external and internal assistance.”
“Of all the districts visited by the team, Goilala stood out as having the greatest potential of producing the temperate vegetables as similar to those to those grown in the Highlands of PNG.”
He added Mr Moroi believed that shortening the value chain, improving post-harvest practices and proper packaging of vegetables would see city residents enjoy high quality vegetables on a consistent basis.
“Mr Moroi would want to see that that all other districts in Central province who have great land masses with huge potential for vegetable production would receive assistance.
“This would include establishment of some irrigation practices with some soil improvement to turn the large flat areas into productive areas.
“The Governor does not want the people of Central province to be bystanders, rather be partakers in major developments such as the LNG.”
Meanwhile, the FPDA would be a key partner in the whole activity.
The vegetable component of the agriculture sector would have high prominence due to
FPDA would hence be playing a pivotal role in the whole market chain in the vegetable industry in Central province.
The current demand for food and the likely increase to come due to the LNG project would see demand rise further, therefore, it would be wiser to mobilise resources closer to the market due to PNG’s poor marketing infrastructure where quality of fresh produce deteriorate very quickly n transit over long distances.
Apart from the direct royalty and employment benefits, the rural people of Central province will be empowered to take on and benefit from the LNG project by empowering the rural economic sector.
The coastal people are also very good seafarers and that potential will also be tapped into through assistance to be sought for marine products.
Another crop that is also to be looked into is the arabica coffee, which is grown in the higher altitudes, while robusta grows well in the lowlands.
Smallholder rubber producers and cocoa and coconut farmers will also be assisted through the agricultural development database currently being established.
Livestock activities are also being seriously considered due to large flat land masses in Central province.
Improved pastures and drinking water for the free ranging ruminant and other improved establishment for other animals like poultry and pigs would also be taken into account.
The team has also identified through consultation that infrastructure has to be in place and in good condition for successful agricultural production and marketing. Infrastructure includes marketing facilities, roads and bridges and airstrips to remote locations.
The need for district marketing depots has surfaced and the team is seriously considering district depots in Central province that will feed the main Boroko market facility that will be in place soon.