Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Agro-tourism has huge potential for Papua New Guinea

Taro garden in Iruupi, Western province, could be an attraction for visitors
Rubber plantation outside Port Moresby would be an experience for the agro-tourist

Ripe coffee cherries...tourists would pay to pluck a cherry
Coffee being sun dried in the agro-tourism attraction

Cane harvesting at Ramu can pull in lots of visitors

While it may be a new concept for Papua New Guinea, agro (or agri, whichever way you want to call it)-tourism is big business in many countries in the world, giving visitors the opportunity to work in the fields alongside real farmers and wade knee-deep in the sea with fishermen hauling in their nets.
Agro-tourism has a number of attractions, both to the visitor and the host.
While it provides for interesting visits and discovery, many of these centres also serve as research and development hubs for the perpetuation and improvement of the agricultural industry in the country.
Taiwan, a country which I visited twice in 2007, lacks the landmass and natural resources of PNG, but makes up for this with a lucrative agro-tourism industry which sees visitors pick, grind and drink coffee (their coffee industry is nothing compared to PNG’s), mill rice, and eat farm-fresh peaches and guavas from the tree, among others.
Malaysia, a country quite like PNG, began its post-independence economy with an agrarian base, which has prepared it well to develop agricultural and commodities-based tourism, the hottest niche in eco-tourism today.
“Recognising that agro-tourism holds a fascination for both Malaysians and visitors alike, organisers of excursions these days include tours to rubber and oil palm estates, as well as pepper farms, fish farms, flower nurseries and fruit orchards,” according to the About Malaysia website (
“Fruit orchards have proven especially popular with visitors, not least because they get to enjoy the delicious exotic fruits they are there to learn about!
“Visits are structured around a tour offering insight into the cultivation, care, processing and manufacturing of these commodities for sale or export.
“The industry includes crops such as maize, cocoa, rubber, rice, fruits, oil palm and a variety of other products from which many Malaysians still earn a living.”
The concept of agrotourism, according to the Eco Tour Directory (, is a direct expansion of ecotourism, which encourages visitors to experience agricultural life at first hand.
“Agrotourism is gathering strong support from small communities as rural people have realised the benefits of sustainable development brought about by similar forms of nature travel.
“Visitors have the opportunity to work in the fields alongside real farmers and wade knee-deep in the sea with fishermen hauling in their nets.”
Agro (agri) tourism, according to Wikepedia, is a style of vacation that normally takes place on a farm or ranch.
This may include the chance to help with farming and ranching tasks during the visit.
Agrotourism is considered to be a niche or uniquely adapted form of tourism and is often practised in wine-growing regions such as Australia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and North America.
In America, agrotourism is wide-spread and includes any farm open to the public at least part of the year.
Tourists can pick fruits and vegetables, ride horses, taste honey, learn about wine, shop in farm gift shops and farm stands for local and regional produce or hand-crafted gifts.
Countries the world over are using agrotourism to develop their local economy, craft trades, and educate visitors to current agriculture practices.
“People are more interested in how their food is produced and want to meet the producers and talk with them about what goes into food production,” Wikepedia says.
“Children who visit the farms often have not seen a live duck, or pig, and have not picked an apple right off the tree.
“This form of expanded agro-tourism has given birth to what are often called ‘entertainment farm’.
“These farms cater to the pick-your-own crowd, offering not only regular farm products, but also food, mazes, open-pen animals, train rides, picnic facilities and pick-your-own produce.”
In PNG, visitors to the highlands can pay a visit to the coffee and tea estates which grace their slopes.
A number of these have been established since the colonial days, and harvesting and processing methods have changed little since.
Waghi Valley of Western Highlands, surrounded by loftier hills, is especially noted for its long-established estates.
On rubber estates, such as Doa Plantation along the Hiritano Highway outside Port Moresby, visitors have the opportunity to experience first-hand how to tap a rubber tree and witness how latex is processed - from coagulation to pressing and smoking.
Another of the country's largest export commodities is palm oil.
Today, PNG is a world leader in the research and development of this multi-purpose fruit.
The clusters of orange-red fruits produce refined cooking oil and other palm-olein products for use in the cosmetic and chemical industries.
A visit to PNG by the agro-tourist would not be complete without some time in the palm oil plantations of West New Britain.
How about the coconut and cocoa plantations of East New Britain?
Witness sago processing in Gulf or East Sepik provinces?
Harvest and eat freshly-boiled taro in Lae?
The yam festival of Milne Bay or the banana festival of the Markham Valley of Morobe province?
Take a drive outside Port Moresby to the Pacific Adventist University farms and hydroponics at Sogeri.
Along the Madang-Lae Highway, sugar dots the countryside at Ramu Sugar, another place with huge agro-tourism potential.
Not forgetting Aiyura Valley outside Kainantu, Eastern Highlands province, and the agro-tourism list for PNG goes on and on.

No comments:

Post a Comment