Access to affordable mechanization options for smallholder farmers is critical for more productive and efficient use of their land and labour resources.
Despite the need, we have limited in this area mainly due to a lack of research capacity. However, we have and will continue to make some efforts where opportunity arises. In 2016, we have through a grant of the EU made improvement on the design of very simple mechanical equipment for rice and peanut processing. Through this project, we were able to develop and assess low cost and energy efficient small scale prototypes of rice and peanut processing machinery. The technologies include: manual rice mill (Kisar mill), solar rice drier and peanut sheller. We also used to the opportunity to build a mini engineering workshop and thermo-physical laboratory.
A second project that addressed the need for appropriate technology also ended in December 2016. We collaborated with the PNG Intellectual Property Office and supported by the Korean Invention Promotion Association (KIPA) with provision of a project grant and technical assistance from Korean experts. This initiative was part of a program of the APEC Intellectual Property Rights Expert Group that aims at developing Appropriate Technology using IP information within APEC economies. Initially a feasibility study was conducted that focused on the technological needs for improving the water system for irrigation purposes but also domestic water supply. Eventually, the team settled on making the existing manual Rope-and-Washer pump more efficient by using available IP and developing a more efficient pump using solar energy. Prototypes of this pump were developed with expertise from Korean engineers and our staff. The prototypes were successfully installed at pilot locations in Central (Hisiu) and Morobe Provinces (Mutzing) and tested by local communities. Model farmers participating in the piloting all agreed on the benefits of the pumps to access water for irrigation purposes.
Currently we are piloting the solar rice mill in 30 communities in the Morobe province in collaborations with Trukai Industries, PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation, Project Support Services and provincial Division of Agriculture and Livestock. This project is supported by the PNG Incentive Fund.