Until a few years ago,
the Talum High Altitude Research Station in Enga province was fully operational drawing scientists
over the country to the province.
The Enga province has been working hard to shake off that image and bring in new economic
investment. The Provincial
Administrator, Dr. Samson Amean admits tribal fighting remains an ongoing problem
but points out that change is happening.
In the provincial capital of Wabag, they
were introduced to members of the Provincial Executive Council (PEC).
While a seemingly insignificant, the PEC is made up of clan leaders
who have considerable influence
over the some of the clans who involved
in the tribal fights. They’ve also come
to understand the importance of high level foreign investment coupled with a 50 percent provincial government investment which they
own through political representation.
Western Highlands, the
availability of good agricultural
land is limited. The focus
of this project is to use the technology and skills brought by the Israelis to produce high
yielding crops that can be exported. who currently compete with the food production volume coming out of the neighboring Western Highlands. This arrangement eliminates the freight and cost burden faced by individual farmers.
|Talum Research Station|
A longstanding feud between two clans put an end to the station’s operations. A nearby school was burnt and other government infrastructure destroyed. The previous events added to the external perception of Enga as a lawless province with ongoing flare ups of tribal warfare.
|Carrots produced in Enga|
“People are tired of tribal fights,” he says. “You know, we had the first contact with foreigners in the 1930s.
|Dr. Samson Amean - Provincial Administrator|
“We are way behind other parts of Papua New Guinea. We have to run to catch up and sometimes we will stumble. That’s how best I can describe Enga for you.”
The provincial government is now working to rebuild the station with investment worth K23 million. It’s a 50-50 joint venture with Israeli company Innovative Agro Industries which brings with it experience in large scale agricultural production.
|Sandis Tsaka - Deputy Provincial Administrator|
|Sir Peter Ipatas - Enga Governor|
“The government is trying to invest into agricultural commodities that provide an economic sustenance for our people,” says the Deputy Administrator for Economic Sector, Sandis Tsaka.
“Investing in vegetables as cash crops is now a really big thing and the partnership with the Israelis gives us the opportunity to invest in the staple food crops already being farmed by our farmers.”
|Member of the farming communities who will benefit from the project|
“We aim to take over 100 percent of the market share of potatoes,” says Enga Governor Sir Peter Ipatas. “We want to reduce the import of potatos to a point where all the potatoes come from our farms in Enga.”
The company will create a nucleus agriculture estate able to produce 1000 tons of food per harvest cycle. An additional 1200 tons will be produced by farmers from 320 households with technical support from the Israelis.
The expected tonnage from farmers translates to K2million per harvest cycle being put directly into the hands of Engan farmers.