The people of Kome LLG in Menyamya district have over 3,500 mature apple trees. The farmers recently came to Lae to display their harvest and call for assistance.
In 1986, a student from Menyamya came to Lae to attend the then Bumayong High School. He bought an apple and saved the seeds to distribute to his relatives.
Kokaikwa apple farmer, Gimeh Garth, said two members of his family obtained the apple seedlings. From the batch, only one seed germinated and took almost 10 years to grow, compared to the average of eight years that standard-sized trees take. To date, over 3,500 apple trees have matured under the watchful eyes of over 35 farmers.
With local farmers determined to put Menyamya on the map, all they need now is training. Furthermore, the farmers, who have sought assistance from the Morobe Provincial Government, said a disease, or fungus, is killing their apples.
Garth said his visit to the National Agricultural Research Institute proved fruitless as he was advised that PNG has no apple expert to help them.
They are now appealing to the government to outsource international researchers to help protect their orchards.
On hand to receive the apples was the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Tokana Hasavi, who assured the farmers that he will relay their message to the Governor and provincial administrator.
The apples have been flown to Port Moresby for testing.
(Morobe Governor’s Chief of Staff, Tokana Hasavi, left, receiving the apples from Gime Garth, right)