Sunday, March 25, 2012

Central province has big vegetable potential


THE potential for vegetable production in Central province is yet to be fully recognised.
An agronomic study showed that open pollinated vegetables like tomato, French bean and capsicum can grow well in the lowland areas whereas in the high altitudes, scientists had noted encouraging performances by English cabbage, broccoli and carrots.
For mid altitudes, capsicum was looking promising while evaluations for tomato and broccoli were still in progress. 
Children admiring capsicum harvested at Sogeri, Central province

These were some of the findings from the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) from agronomic trails under a collaborative vegetable project funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
The trials were carried out in Laloki, Sogeri and Tapini, to evaluate the vegetables (tomato, capsicum, French bean, broccoli, English cabbage and carrots) in three altitudinal sites – low, mid and high – of the province.
Other collaborators are the Fresh Produce Development Agency, Pacific Adventist University, Central Province’s Department of Agriculture and Livestock and Australia’s Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and the University of Canberra.
The project’s objective was to increase vegetable productivity, diversify vegetables to farmers and consumer preference, enhance supply consistency, quality assurance; and guarantee two efficient and effective value chains and well-distributed benefits in the Central Province.
During a project review meeting last week at NARI Laloki outside Port Moresby, all partners presented their outcomes, achievements and challenges in this collaborative initiative.  

The two-day review was to:
·         Assess the outcomes, achievements and challenges of the project’s first year of implementation;  
·         Rechart the future activities including work plan for year 2012;  
·         Plan for the mid-term review by external reviewers in November this year; and
·         Showcase the project to stakeholders, including network farmers, in the Central province.

A production cost survey in the farmer’s field, also done by NARI, showed that farmers’ yields are below average and costs including man-days are above average.
This study recommended more training for farmers with supply of improved vegetable seeds.
Production cost is a component of the value chain management aspect of the project.  
The review meeting was attended by project leader associate Professor Colin Birch, ACIAR country manager Emily Flowers, NARI deputy director general Dr Sergie Bang and representatives from partner organisations.

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