Potato farmers reaping rewards

Potato farmers in the Highlands are now reaping in the harvest and its rewards following a mass distribution of potato seeds by agribusiness operator Innovative Agro Industry (IAI).

This was in partnership with the Southern Highlands Provincial Government.

It came about with a donation of K14,000 worth of fertilisers, sprayers and agri-equipment from agricultural supply business Chemica.

A total of 45 tonnes of potato seeds were given out to farmers in Southern Highlands, Enga, Western and Eastern Highlands in May this year.

Four months later, the crops are being harvested to supply the new Highlands Agro Industrial Centre (AIC) in Pangia.

The Highlands AIC is a frozen fruits and vegetables processing facility with an automated individually quick-freezing (IQF) processing line and is a 50:50 joint venture between Southern Highlands Provincial Government and IAI.

Frozen French fries made from potatoes will be the first product to come out of the processing facility, requiring 4,000 metric tonnes of potatoes every year.

The AIC factory’s IQF process complies with best industry standards, which will also open up export markets, creating even more demand for fresh potatoes.

The Highlands AIC venture is not only an import replacement venture, it will act as a sustainable bridge for small holder farmers to access markets both domestic and overseas.

Frozen French fries from the Project are expected to be on supermarket shelves in Port Moresby before the end of this year and Highlands AIC plans to also explore processing other locally grown produce like pineapples, taro and a variety of berries.

Freddy Mou