For the Central Province, agriculture is at the heart of the economy. Governor Rufina Peter has a background in this field and is well-placed to understand the impact that it can have in the province.
This has moved Governor Peter to fund and support two major agriculture impact projects in the Central Province, and funding for them was presented at the Governor's Office on the 18th of January.
These are the Yaugala Cattle Farming Project, conducted under the Varagadi Land Group Inc. at Brown River and given funding support of K200,000, and the Bulb Onion training and demonstration plots, to be conducted under the Highlands Potato Connections at Laloki in the Hiri Koiari District.
Another 14 Mile project just outside of Port Moresby was supported with K100,000 also coming from the Central Provincial Government.
“The extent of the impact will depend on the both of you, on how you run your farm business, given that the bulb onion guy has the experience and you raising cattle it's your first time. You have support from my office with Michael Atuai, who is the Agriculture Projects officer in my office, and there are livestock officers I know we can utilize,” Governor Peter told the recipients.
The funding was given in the presence of Hiri Koiari MP Keith Iduhu, who reached out to both recipients, urging them to align their projects with his. The two projects will tap unemployed youths in the province; already, the Yaugala Cattle Farming Manager, Elliot Mark Yamuje, confirmed that six youths have been employed to assist, with more to be engaged.
“Cattle farming died out in the Central Province. Being part of the landowner group I want to bring that back, and already we have started with 30 heads of cattle that we bought from our funds from Rumion Farm in Lae. They are grazing on 40 hectares of prime land. Now with your funding support, we can extend a little and now bring in two to three male bulls, and ultimately we are looking at being the main distributor in the province supplying beef to the Papua LNG Project,” Yamuje said.
The other project set to make a major impact is the bulb onion training and demonstration plots conducted under the Highlands Potato Connections, which will be a model and demonstration farm at Laloki and 14 Mile respectively.
Joshua Lumbalumba from Goroka is the man behind the bulb onion, having his beginnings in the Highlands growing the crop and relocating to the Central Province.
Mr. Lumbalumba claims that Central Province has the best climate to produce world-class bulb onions that can replace the imported variety found in the shops and markets in Port Moresby.
“I am a farmer of different vegetables, but initially I was discovered by the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA), they discovered me growing my onion as I was the first to plant bulb onion up in Daulo, and hired me to be the village extension worker for FPDA. This is where I shared my knowledge on bulb onion, to train villages in Gembog, and that’s how Gembog onion is all over the market," he said.
"I have my farm and over the years I developed my knowledge on how to grow marketable sizes of bulb onions. The onions from Gembog contain a lot of moisture compared to the ones at Daulo from where I’m from because there is heat, but I believe Central Province will have the best because the climate is perfect,” Lumbalumba stated.
The Governor's initial plan is for the Laloki and 14 Mile bulb onion plots to be training and demonstration models, where those interested can learn about how to grow onion and take it back to their various districts in the province and teach others.