Saturday, April 9, 2016

HOW ENGA PLANS TO TAKE OVER THE POTATO MARKET

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Talum Research Station
Until a few years ago,  the Talum High Altitude Research Station in Enga province   was fully operational drawing scientists from  all  over the country  to the province.
 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
 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.
 “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
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.
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
Unlike neighboring  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.
 “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.  
   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.

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