Pomio ventures into potato farming

Pomio is roughly about 20 hours by sea on MV Pomio from Rabaul seaport to Palmalmal, the new headquarter of Pomio District.

Another 30 minutes of boat ride would take to reach Pomio patrol-post, now a sub-station covering Central Inland Pomio.

The distance between Pomio station and Milei is about 32 kilometres by road and it is in Milei and its neighbouring village Pakea where the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) has established two models farm for potato seed production back in 2018.

Potato grows very well in this inland part of Pomio where the altitude is high and the climate more suitable coupled with a stretch of fertile land.

The road ends at Milei Primary school where most of the educated elites from inland Pomio got their primary education.

Between the 32-kilometre stretch, there are no villages and hamlets except jungles and forests. These are forgotten people as far as government service delivery is concerned. The road was built by logging companies years back who came to harvest logs but left without a trace except the road.

However, there is huge potential for Potato, broccoli and bulb onion cultivation, and coffee production that can transform the lives of these forgotten people.

Member for Pomio, Elias Kavavore has invested in this partnership by investing K1 million with FPDA to see production, distribution and marketing of potato, bulb onion, broccoli and other fresh produce in the Pomio District.

Milei, Pakea and Pukulu are three council wards that are going to benefit from this investment. Other council wards within the CIP LLG and other LLGs including West Pomio/Mamusi, Melkoe and Sinivit will also benefit from the investment.

Raymond Ulangare, a seed farmer from Pakea and former employee of NBPOL said he was also involved with Coffee production with support from the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC).

While Raymond takes care of Pakea ward, Michael Buketona has a new modern shed house at Milei supported by FPDA.

Both farmers have been planting potato for seed production to supply to the neighbouring villages and interested farmers so they can spread production in the area.

FPDA has recently supplied a tonne of generation one seed bags (30 bags) that has already covered two hectares of land.

Despite the poor road condition and sea freight, FPDA is determined to bring the crop mostly grown in highlands to the coastal areas where it can grow well.

FPDA Special Projects Program Manager, James Kraip said the whole concept was to address food security and provide economic opportunities for the local people.

He described the land as very fertile and ideal for potato and other crops production adding once people become familiar with the crops, they can generate good income for households and also provide food for the family.

Mr Kraip said not much was achieved when the crop was introduced into the area in 2018 due to logistic support and funding constraints.

However, when the local MP realized the potential and committed funding, FPDA wasted no time coming back to carry on the program.

Currently, FPDA has full time officers on the ground managing the trial farms and extracting seedlings from the farmers to expand it to other surrounding areas, with the support of the district administration. Other crops like bulb onion, English cabbage and Chinese cabbage are introduced to farming households in CIP and West Pomio/Mamusi LLGs, especially in the Aona area, which is about 4-hour drive from Palmalmal.

Mr Kraip said a proper launching is expected in the near future so that local MP Kapavore and FPDA can formally announce their partnership and develop a market value chain for Pomio potato to the New Britain markets and other parts of the country.

Freddy Mou