Friday, March 12, 2010

Defence Force transports rubber from Manus

Caption: Galley Reach Holding factory assistant, Laki Iovai (second from left) with help from DAL rubber section staff, organises the uploading of the rubber after arrival in Port Moresby


The Government’s export driven and green revolution policies are well and truly serving the interests of the rural farmers.

This was evident especially for rubber growers in the Manus province who have faced difficulties in transporting their cup lump rubber for processing and export to overseas markets.

Thanks to the PNG Defence Force, the PNGS Seeadler was mobilised last week to assist in transporting 33 bags or 600kg of cup lump rubber from Manus to Port Moresby.

As part of its civil-military cooperation, the PNGDF has agreed to use its aircraft and naval vessels to assist rural and remote communities transport their agricultural produce to markets.

With the support of the commanding officer of the Naval Base in Lombrum, Manus, the shipment of the rubber was done on a trial basis, however, farmers and the provincial division of agriculture and livestock are very excited.

The successful outcome of the trial shipment will determine whether the PNGDF will continue to provide similar assistance in the future.

The shipped rubber from Manus was unloaded and transported to the Galley Reach Holding rubber factory at Doa in Central province.

The last shipment of rubber from Manus to Galley Reach factory was in 2004.

Manus agriculture advisor Benedict Bulungol said the assistance from the PNGDF was appreciated and a boost to morale of farmers who had struggled for many years to transport their produce.

He said rubber production was small due to lack of market, however, plans were in place to revitalise smallholder planting.

Currently, there are 126 farmers and there is potential to increase production to 100 tonnes per year.

Mr Bulungol said the strategy to revive rubber included conducting awareness and mobilising farmers, carrying out rehabilitation and introducing high-yielding planting materials, capacity building including training, transportation and marketing of cup lump rubber and establishment of cooperative societies.

He said the provincial administration, with the support of National Department of Agriculture and Livestock, PNGDF and relevant agencies aimed to win back the confidence of the farmers.

The support by the navy in transporting the rubber has rekindled the interest of farmers in the province, who have been waiting for such assistance for a long time.

“Rubber, like the other cash crops in Manus is an existing commodity and redeveloping the industry is the responsibility of the division of agriculture and livestock, the farmers, local level

governments and all stakeholders,” Mr Bulungol said.

“The rubber industry in Manus can be revived and has the potential to grow, given the right support from relevant stakeholders.

“The immediate beneficiaries are the farmers, women and children who have suffered for a long time.

“The revival of rubber will assist in providing cash income earning opportunities and improve the standard of living in the rural communities.”

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