At a corner of North Goroka, in the capital of Eastern Highlands, a quiet agricultural revolution is taking place.
This is the home of the ‘China Juncao and Upland Rice Technology Project to PNG’ which is being run in collaboration with the Eastern Highlands Provincial Government.
Here, Chinese experts are carrying out work on Juncao Mushrooms, Upland Rice and an amazing grass with multiple uses known as ‘Lin Grass’.
The grass, which also enriches the soil, is used for mushroom propagation as well as feed for livestock including goats, sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, chicken and even fish.
The North Goroka base supplies mushrooms – which retail for up to K20 per kg at supermarkets - to Eastern Highlands farmers.
Upland Rice cultivation is already taking off in a big way in Goroka, Henganofi, Ungai-Bena, Daulo and Lufa districts of Eastern Highlands.
In May this year, a grand rice harvest officiated by Eastern Highlands’ Governor Peter Numu was held at Finintugu Village in Henganofi, where growers sold 148 bags of rice weighing 10.5 tonnes to the new Eastern Highlands Rice Co-operative.
The farmers then donated 1.5 tonnes of rice to the Chinese experts for distribution to other rice growers in Eastern Highlands.
This is the biggest rice project involving rural villagers in PNG and is very much in line with the vision of Prime Minister
James Marapefor the country to be self-sufficient in rice production by 2025.
On Friday, September 11, 2020, I accompanied Agriculture and Livestock Secretary Daniel Kombuk and Livestock Development Corporation Managing-Director Terry Koim to the Juncao base in North Goroka.