Thursday, January 28, 2010

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Caption: Mount Giluwe LLG councilor Sumba Wako showing his potato plot at his Pagapena village, Tambul.-Picture by BUSTIN ANZU




VEGETABLE farmers in Tambul, Western Highlands province, have every chance of becoming millionaires through farming.

If everyone there works the land, and if every effort is made by these people at the foot of the majestic Mt Giluwe – Papua New Guinea’s second highest peak – there is no reason why they cannot supply the whole country with fresh vegetables and make a lot of money in the process.

Tambul is a Garden of Eden for vegetable production.

It is the major producer of potato and temperate vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, capsicum, onion, radish and carrots in the country and the major supplier of the renowned Mt Hagen market. 

The dream of supplying PNG with vegetables can be achieved on the back of a recently-launched vegetable development project: ‘Developing a Sustainable Potato and Vegetable Production in the Tambul Valley – WHP’.

The project was launched at Alkena in Tambul last Nov 7 and will be spearheaded by the MKL Vegetable Farming Group.

The group is a newly-established community initiative involving farmers led by Maktol Oke, a specialist potato seed grower in the Upper Kaguel area of Tambul.

Mr Oke, who is also chairman of the MKL group, said the initiative was an “impact project” for the 68, 000 people of Tambul-Nebilyer aimed at enabling them to increase their potato and vegetable production for cash and food to improve their livelihoods.

He said the project received overwhelming support from Tambul-Nebilyer MP Benjamin Poponawa, Mt Giluwe local level government, district administration, Lutheran church, local leaders and farmers.

Mr Poponawa supported the project with K6, 000 while Western Highlands Governor Tom Olga chipped in with K20, 000.

National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) and Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) assisted with technical advice.

“The Alkena Lutheran Church provided vacant land which has been developed into a central resource centre for seed multiplication and distribution to farmers throughout the district, Western Highlands and other potato-growing areas in the country,” Mr Oke said.

“The centre will also be used for farmer training, demonstration and information sharing by service providers such as NARI, FPDA and the provincial division of primary industry.”

Mr Oke said potato was an important food crop for high-altitude areas like Tambul, which was making a comeback from the notorious Potato Late Blight Disease of 2003, and the project was anticipated to produce clean and certified seeds for farmers.

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