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Trukai partners NARI for domestic rice production

NARI and Trukai Industries Limited have reached an understanding to venture into a rice development partnership across a number of sites in Papua New Guinea. A Letter of Intent on this collaboration was signed during the 2017 Agricultural Innovations Show day, witnessed by Kasiga Kelly Naru, Morobe Governor; Paul Murphy, Consul-General, Australian High Commission- Lae; Mark Robertson, Trukai Chairman; and Joseph Tomerop, Deputy Chairman-NARI Council.

NARI Director General Dr Sergie Bang and Trukai CEO Greg Worthington-Eyre put pen to paper to indicate their intent to develop commercial rice growing opportunities across three NARI regional centres. While the details of the agreement are yet to be defined, it was proposed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be developed for signing by the end of May 2017.

Worthington-Eyre said Trukai has been a long partner of NARI and the signing of the letter of intent gives the green light for another major undertaking between the two organizations.

He said the partnership will allow Trukai and NARI to grow rice at the three NARI centres for the domestic market.

Dr Bang said it was a very important public-private partnership that will not only generate much needed revenue for NARI during this challenging time but will also allow the research Institute to generate data on the production and marketing value chain on domestic rice production.

He said such data is needed for economic analysis to develop and recommend a viable rice production and marketing system for PNG.

"The expected outcome is to develop rice as a cash crop since it is already a staple food," Dr Bang said.

He added that currently almost 100% of the rice consumed in PNG is imported, which amounts to 250, 000 tonnes imported every year costing around K300 million.

As we have seen in the recent 2015 drought, some of the countries that export rice to PNG were not able to do so due to the impact of the El Nino drought on their production systems, Dr Bang said.

This calls for PNG to seriously consider growing its own rice. This can be done with Trukai as the rice company to drive the production and marketing of the crop in this country which they are already doing.

Under the partnership, irrigated rice will be grown at Bubia (Morobe Province), Aiyura (Eastern Highlands Province) and Laloki (Central Province) with Trukai offering the market access. The economic analysis of the rice production value chain will capture all costs and value-add activities from production through to packaged rice sold to consumers under the concept of “Paddy to Plate”.

Both parties will act in the best interest of PNG rice growers to promote the development of a commercially viable, domestic rice industry.

Under the leadership of CEO Greg Worthington-Eyre, Trukai has already invested in domestic rice development in the country in partnership with local governments and landowners across the Central, Oro, West New Britain and Morobe provinces with harvests already packaged and sold to PNG consumers.

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