By MALUM NALU
Goroka farmer Tom Solepa, who yesterday completed selling 156 bags of kaukau (sweet potatoes) at Gordon Market in Port Moresby for K150 each, has urged the people of Papua New Guinea to go back to the land.
Solepa, a graduate economist who gave up a well-paying government job some years ago to return to the land, will use the more than K7, 000 he had earned in just two days to pay school fees for his two children who are attending Goroka International Primary School.
He told The National yesterday after selling his kaukau that he was very proud, as an executive of Highlands Farmers and Settlers Association (HFSA), to have brought his kaukau all the way from Goroka via Lae to Port Moresby.
“It takes courage, patience, to bring our kaukau to market,” Solepa said.
“As a person who has been trying to promote farmer issues, this gives me a lot of satisfaction.
“I want to tell our people that money is on the land.
“The returns are very good.”
Solepa, 38, from Meteyufa village outside Goroka in the Asaro Valley, said kaukau was a “winner”.
“I see the kaukau trade as a big business,” he said.
“You bring in kaukau from rural areas to urban areas.
“In Goroka, we do sell the kaukau we grow, however, we feel that we can make better money if we sell in Lae or Port Moresby.
|Kaukau being sold at Lae Main Market|
“We stopped growing coffee a long time ago.
“It takes us just three months to for kaukau, from growing to harvesting.
“In a year, we make four harvests.
“If we sell 60 bags, we can make up to K11, 000.”
The process, however, can be expensive, as Solepa has had to pay people to tend his gardens, harvest, bag the kaukau and carry them to roadside, road transport to Lae, sea transport to Port Moresby, and several others.
He has also had to pay for his airfares to and from Goroka.
But true to form, Solepa has reaped what he sowed, and what he had earned from this latest kaukau sale will go towards the education of his two children at international school in Goroka.
“My kids are at international school so this money is for their school fees,” he said.
“I pay K5, 000 per child per term, so this money will help me a lot.”