Many farmers in the highlands areas have been using pathogen tested (PT) sweet potato materials supplied by NARI.
This technology has now found its way to the lowlands at Gabsongkec Village in the Huon Gulf District of Morobe province, through farmers Ottob and Maryane Ferea.
The couple left their paid jobs and ventured into farming, something they are passionate about and formed a farmer group, Gabsongkec Model Farmer Group. With 26 members, they are supporting their agribusiness by supplying orange-flesh sweet potato (Beauregard) and other vegetables to major supermarkets in Lae. If you come across an orange-flesh sweet potato at Food Mart, you can be sure Mr Ferea and his farmer group supplied it.
Their PT materials are sourced by the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA). They have distributed over 3,000 cuttings to their group members. Mr Ferea says their humble beginning would not have been successful without the support of FPDA and the cuttings from NARI.
Ottob and Maryane Ferea and their group are also assisting with NARI’s ACIAR supported Climate Smart Agriculture project. They participated in a recent field day conducted at Bubia for the project.
“We are grateful for attending the field day which has taught us additional skills. We only keep daily records stating sunny or rain in our log book. FPDA and now NARI are helping us to improve some of our farming practices,” the couple explained.
They will help their group by using the skills and knowledge gained to improve their thriving fresh produce business. Apart from Beauregard, they are supplying the Black Beauty Egg Plants which can be found on the shelves at Papindo Supermarket.
Twenty participating farmers of their group were introduced to how climate forecasting can assist them to make informed decisions to improve their farming production. Other farmers were pleased to learn new planting techniques for sweet potato.
Dorothy Muting speaking on behalf of the women said her community plants a lot of taro and is pleased that they have learnt improved skills in sweet potato farming. She made assurance to teach other members of her community from the knowledge and skills gained through the farmer field day.