Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sepik agricultural college to be re-opened

Bush-covered classroom at Sepik Agricultural College. Pictures by PROF PHILIP SIAGURU
Entrance to the Sepik Agricultural College in Baiyik, East Sepik province, which is a ghost of its former self
Prof Philip Siaguru checking out a rundown classroom at the Sepik Agricultural College
The sad remains of a house at Sepik Agricultural College
The way it is now at the once-thriving Sepik Agricultural College
The once-thriving Sepik Agricultural College at is to be rebuilt under an ambitious plan spearheaded by the PNG University of Natural Resources & Environment (formerly University of Vudal) and East Sepik MPs including Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.
Details of the plan, which would cost several million kina and see the rundown college become a campus of the UNRE, were outlined at a meeting between university vice-chancellor Prof Philip Siaguru and East Sepk MPs Gabriel Kapris (Maprik, Minister for Commerce and Industry), Tony Aimo (Ambunti-Dreikikir, Correctional Services), Ronald Asik (Wosera/Gawi), Commerce and Industry secretary Anton Kulit, Investment Promotion Authority board chairman Prof Albert Mellam, staff of the national agriculture development programme (NADP) and support staff of the three MPs in Port Moresby last Friday (May 15).
Until its closure in 1992, the Sepik college at Bainyik, Maprik, was a lively agricultural training centre which produced quality extension officers for Papua New Guinea and overseas countries such as the Solomon Islands.
It is now, however, a shocking skeleton of its former self with rundown and vandalised property covered by thick grass.
Prof Siaguru gave a well-received PowerPoint presentation which started an animated discussion at the meeting.
The UNRE would provide K1 million under the NADP.
Mr Kapris at the beginning of this year wrote to Prof Siaguru to get the ball rolling, after similar letters to Pacific Adventist University, University of Techonology, Divine Word University and University of PNG failed to get any response.
He also allocated K100, 000 from his district improvement programme – with another K400, 000 to come – to kick start the project.
The re-opening of the Sepik college – to be tentatively known as Greater Sepik College of Natural Resources and Environment - also comes at a time when there is major agricultural development in East Sepik province through the K2.5 billion Sepik biofuel project by Cosmos Oil of Japan, and K900m agri-business development by Australian-based Chinese company SPZ Enterprises.
Prof Siaguru said a memorandum of understanding signed between South China Agricultural University and the UNRE last March would also work for the good of the re-opening of the Sepik college.
He plans for a feasibility study to commence as early as this month (May), a skeleton staff and infrastructure to be put in place next year and 2011, and the first student intake to be in 2012 for the diploma/degree programme in agriculture.
Under Prof Siaguru’s plan, the Sepik college would also cater for fisheries, forestry, tourism and the timely-subject of climate change.
“Total basic infrastructure establishment will be about K20m,” he said.
“At first enrolment in 2011, if all planning has been well, government funding should take over and the college should roll out on an annual budget of about K4m.”
Mr Kapris commented: “It’s very timely.
“The Asian Development Bank has also earmarked K1.2b for PNG.
“The timing is very right for us.”
Mr Aimo concurred: “I’m very happy with today’s meeting.
“Mr Kapris wrote to me for a master plan for development and this is now on the way to becoming a reality.”

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