By SENIORL ANZU of NARI
Villagers along the Kikori delta in the Gulf province can now practice modern agriculture for food security and income, thanks to Oil Search Limited and the PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation (PNGWiADF).
The sole dependence on sago and fish for survival by the
people will be a thing of the past as they take up new skills and innovations in
vegetable production. Kikori River
They can now farm round cabbage, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, carrot, spring onion, lettuce, pakchoi, watermelon and tomato.
With support from Oil Search’s community affairs division based in the Gobe oil fields, model farmer and agricultural trainer, Maria Linibi of PNGWiADF, has provided training for 26 villagers since last month.
The participants are from seven villages – Kaiam, Banana camp, Irimuku, Babeio, Veiru, Kekea and Ero – along the
In July, the participants acquired skills in nursery preparation of different tropical vegetables and last week, Linibi taught them again on how to prepare land and transplant seedlings.
The training was conducted at Irimuku village with a demonstration farm established at the run-down Kitomape SDA school grounds.
The initiative was undertaken as part of agriculture development under Oil Search’s sustainable development programme in communities along affected areas of the oil development project in the
and Gulf provinces.
The vigorous performances of the crops were an eye opener for the participants as they could not believe their soil could produce temperate highlands vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, carrot and others.
During the training, Linibi introduced crops to the villagers, emphasised crops’ nutritional and monetary values, and demonstrated farming skills through a participatory approach which many appreciated.
Tommy Polang, Oil Search’s community development officer who was responsible for organising the training, told the aspiring vegetable farmers to take full advantage of the opportunity and utilise what they had learnt from the training in their own villages.
“You can cultivate vegetables and other food crops on your land, just like any PNG farmer,” Polang told participants.
He challenged them to take full responsibility in taking ownership and ensuring self-sustainability after the pilot phase.
He added that with the new developments in oil and gas projects, they would be faced with opportunities in spin-off benefits.
This is especially in terms of finding markets for their produce - which they should capture to support their livelihoods.
Polang called on the participants to be role models and pass on the skills to others in their respective villages, and most importantly, to work in groups and help one another.
Linibi said the exercise was just a start in a small way but they could apply the principles in bigger ways, given their capacities.
Kikori villagers have hands-on training in transplanting broccoli seedlings with trainer and PNGWiADF president Maria Linibi (centre) at Kitomape near Kikori station in the Gulf province
She advised that they should initiate and start something for themselves before calling for assistance.
She also urged the participants to work in groups and form cooperatives and capture opportunities outside of the project areas.
Many of the participants showed appreciation and expressed that the training would change their livelihoods.
Dorothy Foroua, a woman leader from Irimuku, said their food resources were fish, sago and leaves from the bush but with the training gave them new alternatives.
Oil Search provided vegetable seeds and tools.
The vegetable training has three components, two of which (nursery and transplanting), have been successfully completed.
The third phase is post-harvest which is expected to be done in November when the vegetables are ready for harvest.
During the first phase, Linibi demonstrated a technology on plant-derived pesticides which farmers can develop and use from locally available resources such as neem tree, derris (posin diwai) and chili.
In the second phase, she supplied seeds of upland rice varieties, corn and mung beans provided by NARI and seeds of neem tree for formulating home-made pesticides.
Other initiatives under Oil Search Gobe’s sustainability programme include rehabilitation of old coffee blocks and establishment of coffee nursery with some 6,000 seedlings in Erave,
with the involvement of Coffee Industry Corporation.