High malnutrition level in Middle Ramu

Malnutrition is high among children in the remote Simbai area of Middle Ramu in Madang Province.

And villages hardly have any improved agricultural practices to produce highly nutritious and quality garden foods to meet nutritional requirements, says Abner Yalu, an official from the World Bank funded Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project.

Yalu revealed the observation after a recent field trip to the area.

"I walked from Duzin Airstrip to Simbai Station (about  8 hours walk) and was shocked to see a  high level of malnutrition among the children," Yalu said.

There is "virtually no agriculture based business apart from deteriorating coffee", he said.

"It made me wonder why there are no goats, cows, sheep or even village chickens, or even vegetable supply businesses such as carrots, bulb onions, etc?"

Yalu however added that: "The area is ideal for such crops and livestock."

Assessment from the National Nutrition Survey (1982-1983) rated malnutrition in Middle Ramu for children under five years as "very serious, 55 percent of children were stunted and 16 percent were seriously under weight".  

According to the PNG Rural Development Handbook (2001), Middle Ramu has potential for agricultural development in the Sogeram Valley however access to market is poor, let alone other social and economic services largely due to remoteness.

Seniorl Anzu