Bargam rice growers from Sumgilbar Local Level Government in the Sumkar District of Madang province were handed a solar rice milling technology by NARI to boost rice production and food security in the area.
The group is part of the Bargam Cocoa Cooperative and has been growing rice under the leadership of Andrew Fei and Paul Usom with the assistance from the Madang Provincial Division of Primary Industry.
They received the mill on 21 August in a small ceremony at Aronis village. Villagers came from Megiar and nearby hamlets of Aronis to witness the handover.
A display of traditional food crops, innovations such as the solar water harvester, NARI hybrid taro, selected high yielding cassava, corn, mung beans, and African yam and flour products made from cassava and sweetpotato drew the villagers to seek further information on its usefulness.
The NARI display theme was generally on building community resilience to natural disasters such as drought.
Director General Dr Sergie Bang, encouraged the villagers to plant rice as a lot of people like to eat rice. He said the area has good soil and with good rainfall and sunlight and that rice can be planted between rows of taro and vegetables. Dr Bang added that rice can be grown successfully all across PNG to address food or income security.
Director Economic Services of the Madang Provincial Government, Gane Agadob thanked Dr Bang for going to Aronis to handover the mill.
He further explained that NARI is doing a lot of research into assisting food crop farmers in the province to improve production through technologies such as the solar water harvester, solar rice mill, and chicken husbandry and feed formulation.
He said the farmers and DPI officers will still need NARI’s assistance in future to learn to use the various technologies that have been developed for the farming community.
Mr Agadob thanked NARI for partnering with the Provincial DPI which resulted in the handover of the solar rice mill to the Bargam
Andrew Fei, on behalf of the community said lack on rice mills in villages is a constraint to rice farming. He said farmers in the six districts have been trained on rice production, however, the lack of mills and markets for selling rice in bulk have discouraged its continuity.
He also expressed that rice should be treated like other cash crops such as cocoa, copra and vanilla with its own research and development activities for it to be sustainable and financially rewarding to drive farmers interest to cultivate.
Present to witness the handover of the solar mill were Dr Eremas Tade and Uron Salum of Kokonas Indastri Koporesen, Graham
Bidan the Principal of Madang Technical College, and extension officers from the provincial DPI led by Godfried Savi.