Copra in Madang
When we focus on growing or developing an industry, we must also ensure that the same attention is given to investing in research says Minister for Agriculture and Livestock and Member for Maprik John Simon.
Minister Simon spoke these words in the presence of heads of the Kokonas Indasri Koporesian while paying an official visit to the organization’s Stuart Research Station located in Murunas, Madang province.
The research station was established under the PNG Cocoa and Coconut Research Institute to conduct breeding and evaluation studies as well as agronomy and entomology research.
According to studies, Copra is the fourth most significant agriculture cash crop of PNG. An estimated 2.6 million people are engaged in coconut activities in PNG to either generate income and / or as food to supplement their livelihoods.
The Minister for Agriculture arrived in Madang last week as part of his office’s focus on visiting all major projects and programs under DAL to see for himself the status of the programs and projects.
Minister Simon said research institutes are very important as they will ensure the smooth operation in terms of development and growth of an industry.
He said I decided to carry out these sort of visits to get straight to the core of many issues being faced in this great industry; There are many issues such as why are plantation’s being run down, why are there no growth and development in crops when PNG is rich and surrounded by them.
He noted that in 2011 it was established that Copra and coconut prices were going downhill; what are we doing about that, something is missing along the line there is continuity in the industry, crop production needs to be increasing and this is where research and science comes in.
The Minister noted that he appreciated what KIK is doing and one of the pathways is to go downstream that will add value to the industry, one pathway is also to go into cottage industry.
He said he is happy with how the station at Murunas is being run and it is much better looked after than other station he has visited in the country.
“These are the institutions that are run by the state adding the at the Prime minister says there is money in the industry, we need to be able to raise money for ourselves; and one way of doing this is through researching the best pathways to commercialize each commodity” he said.
He said my office is ready to support any development in the industry as long as each industry is willing to develop and grow the crops under their responsibilities.
The research center has also gone into integrated crop farming where various different crops are now being observed and tested to integrate with coconut trees; this also includes pineapples and vanilla plants.
In terms of commercialization – there are currently 16 Small to Medium Enterprises engaging in the Coconut Industry with the aid of KIK.
Meantime, copra farmers in Mirap in Sumgibar LLG, Sumkar district who are currently experiencing support from the local Member’s office with a K200 000.00 subsidization of cash crop prices.
Minister Simon said DAL will wholly support this move by the local MP and Minister for Sumkar and will ensure that the people are a major beneficiary in this initiative.