The Technical Mission of the Republic of China to PNG (ROC-Taiwan) has been a partner to the country's agriculture development since the signing of an agricultural extension agreement in 1990. This partnership has expanded to NARI since the institute's birth in the late 90s and both have collaborated on a range of agricultural R&D avenues ever since.
ROC-Taiwan's mission was to see PNG become self-sufficient in food production, be an exporter of food, and become a leader in agri-business in the region. To achieve this, the Technical Mission has been providing necessary manpower, technical assistance and other resources to develop commercial farming for farmers.
During a ROC-Taiwan Field Day at Bubia on May 29 2016, representative Herman Chiu presented one of its best rice varieties to NARI. The occasion was witnessed by stakeholders including the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and rice farmers.
Chiu said although rice has become a staple food for most households, there is still more work needed to improve cultivation practices and production.
“The cultivation of rice as a staple food still needs good management through agriculture skills and knowledge," Chiu said.
"This can be done through assisting farmers prepare and see development. You can transform yourself to becoming a semi-commercial or commercial farmer in the rice industry.”
He added that a change of attitude towards the development of the rice industry through joint farming ventures by all stakeholders can see this sector grow.
NARI Director General Dr Sergie Bang said the Taiwan Mission has been a strong partner in agriculture mainly focusing on rice seed production and recently into farmer training.
Dr Bang said such partnerships are important to fulfill the PNG government's aspirations in developing renewable sectors - agriculture and tourism amongst others - through Small to Medium Enterprises (SME) policies introduced recently.
“In agriculture, partners like DAL, Taiwan Mission, and NARI must get our farmers into training towards entrepreneurship to access funds through the SME policy to grow the economy of this country," said Dr Bang.
"We have to look at the value-chain in terms of production, processing, and marketing."
He said rice farmers can only enter into semi-commercial production if farmers are equipped with basic business skills-training.
DAL Deputy Secretary for Policy and Planning Francis Daink said the government was now shifting its focus to agriculture through strengthened partnerships and innovative approaches.
Daink said such an intervention was also timely in view of the recent drought with food security remaining a primary concern.
“I would like to commend the Taiwan Technical Mission and NARI for working together with farmers to produce high-yielding and drought tolerant crops,” Daink said.
Morobe Provincial Agriculture Chairman Michael Poena shared the same sentiments, saying training for farmers was essential to see the sector grow and at the same time improve livelihoods of rural communities.