Bougainville strengthens food systems in response to COVID-19

by PNG Business News - February 17, 2022

Photo credit: ABG

Improved availability of disease- and pest-resistant crops, as well as nutritious crop types, is helping the ABG Department of Primary Industries boost its food systems.

Through the Pacific Regional Integrated Food and Nutrition Security Program to COVID-19 project, this initiative is being carried out in collaboration with the Pacific Community Land Resources Division.

Communities are working to save traditional food crops that are in danger of disappearing as part of the initiative. In the Central (Mabiri area), North (Tinputz region), and South (Tinputz area), food crops such as taro, sweet potato, banana, yam, capsicum, eggplant, and other traditional staple foods will be planted in established plots and newly created nurseries (Konga Siwai area).

The selected towns will be given seed supplies and building materials for the nurseries as a result of this assistance. In a coordinated manner including the appropriate department and non-governmental organizations, the gathered varieties will be protected and appraised before being distributed to the districts.

Kenneth Dovaro, Acting Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, said that securing finance for these initiatives was often difficult, and emphasized the importance of the partnerships and collaborations that made them feasible.

“We are so pleased as a department to have this support and partnership with SPC (PRISCO-19 project). This initiative and support will go a long way in making sure that enough food crop varieties with desirable nutritional values are conserved and distributed to most farmers in need of food in a timely manner,” he said.

In the north, atolls area, central and south of Bougainville, the initiative is expected to help over 50,000 farmers.

Amos Lepasa, the DPI's Area Manager for Central Bougainville, said the project has drawn attention to an area of work that is typically disregarded. The initiative has assisted in addressing a shortage of resources and knowledge on upgrading food supply systems.

‘’This is a huge initiative and assistance, which was never anticipated before, and we’re very grateful to SPC and the PRISCO-19 project,” said Lepasa.

“Our traditional food crops that were almost lost can now be conserved, multiplied and distributed to many people in our districts and communities.”

“We will also use the set-up in the years to come in doing some basic applied crop research work.”

This project has enabled people to maintain, save, and utilise their indigenous food crops, according to Petronila Tieng, a farmer from Siwai, South Bougainville. Simultaneously, they recognized the need for greater food types and variety in order to increase nutritional security.

“We are happy to be able to use other introduced crops through these projects. With this development, we will be gathering our local food crops and others (varieties) that will be trialled here. Some of the local food crops have been lost through the process of urbanisation and commercialisation,” said Ms Tieng.

The project, which is the first of its kind in Bougainville, promotes awareness about the need for a comprehensive program and comparable programs to help vulnerable communities cope with the effects of food insecurity.


Reference: Autonomous Bougainville Government (11 February 2022). “Bougainville strengthens food systems in response to COVID-19”. 

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