By SAMUEL KEHATSIN of NARI
PRODUCING agricultural produce to meet the requirements of markets requires special attention and those involved need to be equipped with the required skills.
This is exactly what a taro commercialisation project in the East New Britain province is doing, ensuring taro growers under the project are aware of the requirements involved in processing taro before exporting them to major local urban markets or overseas.
|Participants going through steps involved in field planting|
|One of the newly-planted taro fields of the AIGS taro commercialisation project|
The project, funded through the Agricultural Innovations Grant Scheme (AIGS) of AusAID, is conducting a series of training for farmer trainers to educate farmers on the importance of the various stages involved in processing taro to meet market demands and quarantine requirements.
One such training was conducted last week at the NARI Island Regional Centre at Keravat, attended by farmers and trainers from various local level governments in the province.
The training, facilitated by staff of the project, featured post-harvest techniques, selection of quality planting materials, field planting techniques, chemical application and safety and storage. Demonstrations were held to show the process involved from harvesting, cleaning, grading, and packing of taro to meet export requirements.
Kiteni Kurika, a project staffer and one of the facilitators, said that the biggest problem was the lack of support from other agencies to see the beneficiaries of what the association was capable of doing.
She added that it was a mammoth task, especially when engaged in trying to export food crops like taro to overseas markets.
Kurika said her team was trying to ensure quarantine issues and meeting market demand on a regular basis was better understood by farmers.
Participants expressed that the training was useful, saying they knew how to plant taro but to process taro to meet requirements had been an eye opener.
Through this project, taro growers in province have made a first shipment of taro to the Pacific Adventist University and are already selling in the supermarkets of Port Moresby.
East New Britain Women and Youth in Agriculture Corporative Societies Association is already leading the way in agriculture in the province and is calling for more support from government agencies, NGOs, and the private sector in the province for them pursue this further.
The association is now looking at the LNG projects and other project sites, with options of exporting to New Zealand also being considered.