Thursday, January 28, 2010

Need to promote rice farming in rural areas

Caption: DAL food security technical officer Patrick Oa (long sleeve shirt) explains features of rice harvester to rice farmers in Eastern Highlands province during a training programme. -DAL food security file photo




Rice can be grown anywhere but the main problem is lack of quality seeds, seed distribution, training and rice milling facilities.

This is more so in the rural communities, especially the remote areas, where lack of transport and road infrastructure is another big obstacle.

There are many farmers willing to grow rice but they need access to quality seeds, improved distribution of the seeds, training and also rice mills.

 While some farmers are prepared to use whatever little resources they have, others expect government services to be delivered right to their doorstep.

Others just want to work hard and get their hands dirty first before seeking further assistance.

One farmer from Kakoro village in the remote Lakekamu local level government (LLG) in Gulf province braved all odds to travel into Port Moresby last week to pick up rice seeds at the Department of Agriculture and Livestock offices.

Despite heavy rains and flooding, he traveled by dingy and road to get the seeds.

Kamas Imau said he started growing rice at a young age and took up employment in the city before returning home and back to rice farming.

He was happy to have gained valuable knowledge and skills in rice cultivation.

Encouraged by an Asian businessman, Mr Inau advised his family members and friends to start growing rice again.

Despite many difficulties, he has been struggling to grow rice and has been continuously seeking help from government agencies like DAL and politicians.

A former, MP Ekis Ropenu, bought him a micro rice mill which was very useful in assisting other rice farmers as well. 

The mill is still in good condition and this has motivated many people to start growing rice.

DAL officials, who are aware of Mr Imau’s needs, confirmed the remoteness of the area and lack of essential services and high transport costs.

They said rural villagers were being encouraged to grow rice as an alternative food source besides their normal diet of sago and others.

 Farmers in the remote areas need government assistance and access to services.

DAL is prepared to provide more training for farmers in rice cultivation, however, there needs to be more cooperation from provincial authorities.

DAL officials also suggested that more rice farmers should be encouraged to grow rice both for household consumption as well as for seed distribution.

 The current process where farmers travel to Port Moresby to obtain rice seeds is too expensive and cumbersome. 


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