PNG Biomass Promotes Intercropping
To help landowners maximise the productivity and benefits of their land, PNG Biomass is promoting and encouraging the practice of intercropping - where individuals can plant cash crops in between rows.
An example is the communities in Markham Valley where new landowner groups are now expecting to open up their land to small-scale agroforestry production. With landowners running their own intercropping businesses, PNG Biomass has set a few simple guidelines.
A team from PNG Biomass regularly conducts intercropping training and field demonstration - with the most recent held at Mempem-ampes with over 30 local farmers present. Two of these farmers provide continuous monitoring and instruction to additional farmers in the area, reporting back to the PNG Biomass team.
At the start of 2019, a baseline assessment was conducted on intercropping practices across the Markham Valley. The results included the best incomes and harvests generated from melons, pumpkins, and cucumbers. The single harvest income of women was around K3,000 from intercropping. As a household, families generated at around K2.4 million a year, to which some communities claim to be a conservative figure.
With more and more lands opening up, more local farmers are going this route.
Oil Search’s PNG Country Manager, Leon Buskens, said that the PNG Biomass is one instance where the firm engages with communities. “First we go out and speak directly to the landowners. We listen to what they need, want, hope, and expect to see in the future. It is a long process of engagement, patience, mutual understanding and managing expectations, but above all, we focus on building trust – and trust is something that takes time and flows from your actions. PNG Biomass has been working with the people in the Markham Valley for 10 years, they know each other very well, and together they have found a way to maximise the benefits of the land. Agroforestry is such a great example of collaboration, of landowners leveraging the investment and capacity of the private sector.”