Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Taiwan Technical Mission maximises crop production for better food security and cash opportunity

Farming is not a new concept when it comes to people of Papua New Guinea.

In fact most people in PNG in one way or another have some basic idea of growing crops and rearing livestock such as pigs and poultry for food and prestige.

However, with the current day pressures from increased population, food shortages and increased daily need for cash our old practices are no longer reliable.

The ROC Taiwan Technical Mission has been teaching and supporting farmers in PNG to adopt innovative techniques and ideas to maximise crop production for home food security and creating cash income earning opportunities.  

One such technique is currently being trialed for documentation in collaboration with National Department of Agriculture and Livestock (NDAL) at the Erap Food Security Resource, Development and Information Centre, in Markham valley.

The concept is called ‘Continuous Sequential Planting and Harvesting Technique’.         

This technique calls for the farmer to plant in continuous planned intervals so that the crop is harvested continuously to supply the market thus not letting the customer down with supply shortages. 

The concept can work for farmers utilising both irrigation system and natural rainfall.      

The advantage with irrigation system is that this cropping and harvesting pattern can continue all year around and the farmer is therefore secured in both food and cash income opportunity all year around.

Farmers utilising natural rainfall, however, can still maximise production during the rainfall period and the money earned and saved will support the farmer during dry seasons where crop production is low.

Different crops and varieties will have their own cropping and harvesting pattern, but with the corn (maize) trial, corn is planted under natural rainfall at intervals of two weeks.

The crop takes two and half months from planting to harvesting of fresh cobs for eating or marketing.

Harvesting follows the planting pattern whereby within two weeks, the first set of planted crops are harvested and marketed while the next set of planting is maturing for the next set of harvesting and so on.

The preliminary report from this field demonstration indicates that good income can be made by the farmer in cropping corn under this continuous planting and harvesting technique.            

In an area of 0.1 hectare piece of land that is manually cropped, total revenue of K400 is possible with a healthy net profit of K200.

With this concept a K2000 net profit is possible for a one- hectare area cropping.

Corn is an important grain crop that can be eaten both fresh and dry (corn flour) and the excess corn and straws can also be used for livestock feeds so the benefit is multiple.

The good news is that corn, or maize, grows well in PNG.

According to Taiwan technical expert George Sun, farmers in PNG need to be creative and innovative in their farming approaches.

They must change their old farming attitudes and take on new farming ideas and techniques that can allow for increased crop production for greater food security and create cash earning opportunities.

Any one interested with this concept can contact Mr Sun and/or Mr Ario Movis of the NDAL office in Lae for detailed information.








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