Santos helping locals with sustainable farming

By: PNG Business News December 19, 2023

Senior Agribusiness Advisor at Fresh Produce Development Agency, John Susub talks about soil protection in a communal farm.

Santos is helping improve food security, quality of life and income opportunities for local farmers in its project impact areas through sustainable farming.

In a partnership with Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) and PNG Mining & Petroleum Hospitality Services (PNGMPHS), Santos Sustainable Development and Community Affairs teams work with families, women, and youth, teaching them skills and knowledge on sustainable agricultural practices that aim to protect the soil and produce organic fresh vegetables while increasing and maintaining a profitable farm income that will improve their lives.

Once such community is Daga 2 in Pimaga. Over sixty youths have come together to form the Daga Youth Group which also comprises of their mothers and fathers.

FPDA worked with and trained the young farmers and their families to increase their capacity to produce high quality organic vegetables. The training included soil preparation, composting, natural pesticides and how to grow, transplant and main healthy crops.

After the training, the farmers started working on their farm transplanting some of their crops with the aim to harvest early next year.

Elsie Mongoru, Santos Senior Sustainable Development Manager applauded the community for participating in this project which will be of benefit to them and their families.

“It’s a community-driven project which involves our youths, mothers, and fathers. At Daga 2, we have this communal farm where it allows all the community members that are part of this farming group to come together, learn about the farming techniques and replicate these in their own family farms.

“The farmers provided labour to build the demonstration farm and water storage tanks base. They utilise the infrastructures for their training and other farming related meetings,” Ms Mongoru said.

During a recent visit to the farm by Santos and FPDA, the team witnessed the collaboration between the farmers and saw firsthand the work the farmers are putting into their nursery, comprising carrots, capsicum, watermelon, and a variety of other cabbages including Chinese cabbages which are being transplanted after four weeks from the nursery to the neatly prepared garden plots for harvest early in the new year.

Village Councillor Timothy Dosabo thanked Santos for driving this ongoing initiative in the community and in providing support where necessary to help the people earn a living from what they plant on their land.

The main diet for communities within this region is sago and so the training in sustainable farming will help with food security.“Our young people here are eager to learn the new farming techniques to plant our vegetables and manage our farms to produce quality foods that will meet the market demands. We learnt many new things from the training provided by Santos through FPDA. This is a breakthrough for us, especially learning to use compost, watering our vegetables, and digging the soil to make it porous and to improve the drainage system around our plots,” Mr Dosabu said.

“Our parents didn’t teach us any of these farming techniques as we were basically living off what the land and bush provided us with. But our children are now fortunate as we will be teaching them these farming methods and they too will teach their children. This will be pass on from generation to generation.”

Youth Group Leader Waseba Wassy Wayabo was filled with emotion as he expressed his gratitude to the community and Santos Sustainability team for supporting him to lead the program.

“I thank our Councillor and our members for believing in me and entrusting me to lead our young people. We have widows and orphans who are part of our group and I truly appreciate the Santos team for engaging us. We will all work together for a better future for our community,” Mr Wayabo said.

Similar farmer training has been set up in five other locations in the Kutubu area and will gradually move to the Hekari region so all communities can be able to learn and use these modern farming techniques.

FPDA will provide extension services until harvesting and PNGMPHS will train the farmers on how to clean and store the vegetables to be able to meet commercial standards.

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