Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Revival of Ossima beef cattle will boost development

Captions:  1.Women and children gather to support their menfolk in reviving the cattle project at Ossima. 2. Long-serving livestock officer Paul Waiya checking on a cow at the mission station paddock.3.  Happy resource owners and villagers express their support for the cattle project.




A proposal to revive the once-active Ossima beef cattle project in the Sandaun province is in the best interest of the resource owners, local communities and the country as a whole.

An initiator and former councilor David Osi said the project would create income-earning opportunities and improve the people’s livelihood and restore the once highly regarded Ossima beef products.

MrOsi said the area in the Vanimo-Green River district had been neglected through lack of agricultural and basic services since the cattle industry declined several years ago.

The Catholic Church previously played a key role in operating the Ossima cattle and slaughterhouse as well as piggery and other livestock and food crops activities.

Mr Osi told a public hearing on the proposed Ossima forest and cattle project last week that many landowners were keen to revive the cattle project because of its enormous potential to provide beef products to consumers in Sandaun and the neighboring Indonesian province of Irian Jaya.

The increased population in Vanimo town and other communities through introduction of impact projects will mean more demand for supply of protein.

He said most people still had the knowledge and skills in managing cattle and did not require much training.

However, the key objective is to get the government to provide funding and technical assistance to revive the project.

“We really need government assistance to get the cattle project up and running again,” Mr Osi said.

“Ossima beef used to be highly regarded in the past and can be restored to its former glory.

“There is a lot of potential for beef and other livestock.

“You can grow oil palm but you will need protein to survive and the Ossima project provides that opportunity for the people to raise cattle and utilise the slaughterhouse, and venture into other agricultural activities.

“Nobody is going to come and feed you- you have to work hard on your land.

“Many of you already have the skills.”

Mr Osi said he had received assurances from the provincial government and the local MP that they supported the project and urged other relevant government agencies to work with the landowners in getting the project moving.

“Forget about your differences – we want to see development. The cattle project once up and running will create opportunities and bring increased benefits.”

Vice-chairman of the landowner company Ossima Resources Ltd, Kalistus Kelau and directors Paul Buep and Peter Bopi, said majority of the resource owners fully supported the initiative.

They said cattle beef farming was once a thriving livestock industry under the management of the church and they believed that it could once again become an impact project for the area.

Government officials who attended the hearing said they took note of the comments and would strive to provide technical assistance to intending farmers.

A livestock officer with permits in slaughterhouse and meat inspection, Paul Waiya, said he was now reaching retirement age and urged the project proponents and resource owners to move quickly and utilise his specialist skills.

With over 30 years experience, Mr Waiya worked in Ossima beef most of that time and agreed that it still has vast potential.

Ossima Resources Ltd in partnership with investors is seeking the extraction of timber trees whereby selective sites will be allocated for cattle breeding.

Slaughterhouse facilities at the Ossima station will be upgraded to cater for the redevelopment.

 It is expected to benefit more than 10,000 people in the district.

Department of Agriculture and Livestock’s deputy secretary for provincial and agriculture technical services, Francis Daink, said agriculture development was the backbone of the country’s economic development and those new or existing projects would support and improve the people’s livelihood.

He said there was suitable land in the Vanimo-Green River district for cattle grazing which made the proposal look more promising.

Over 200 resource owners including clan leaders, women’s representatives, community leaders and individuals unanimously agreed for the project to commence.

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