Wednesday, March 16, 2011

East New Britain farmers target corn

By ELIZABETH MELCHIOR of FPDA

FARMERS in inland Baining area of East New Britain province are targeting corn as the major income earner to sustain their livelihoods.

Corn specialist Elizabeth Melchior with farmers during a corn-harvesting demonstration at Gaulim.
Already, over 100 farmers from four different wards in inland Baining are involved in the production and marketing of corn.
These wards include Gaulim, Kainagunan, Ivere and Ivongi.
The demand for the corn production follows a partnership pilot project between Fresh Produce Development Agency and Gazelle district.
FPDA is facilitating the training aspect of it.
FPDA is a semi-autonomous government agency established under the PNG Companies Act to develop a commercially-viable and sustainable horticulture industry for PNG.
The initiative by these two organisations is to encourage farmers to explore alternative means of earning an income.
In 2010, farmers from the vicinity of the four wards were searching for alternative means of earning an income when FPDA came to their aid and started providing technical trainings on producing vegetables.
Farmers in this location and other parts of East New Britain have lost most of their income from cocoa, which has been the main income earning commodity.
The loss was due to a major pest attack caused by cocoa pod borer that devastated the whole industry in East New Britain.
Introducing vegetable production in parts of inland Baining area has been an eye-opener for many farmers that have given up hope.
The farmers are now undergoing a series of trainings that is developing them to become more semi-commercial farmers.
The training covers vegetable production to marketing, gender and budgeting.
Currently, farmers are into their second crop with the assistance of FPDA and are now enjoying the benefits.
With the vast land areas of the inland Baining, farmers are fortunate to open huge areas for food production

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