FPDA increases investment on bulb onions

The Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) has increased investment in bulb onion production and training in the Western Highlands, following interest shown by dedicated farmers.

Konda Village in the Kelua and Kelta community in Keltiga, of Hagen Central District, were proudly received two fully fledged model farms and irrigation systems funded by FPDA.

Kelua’s was launched on Friday October 8, by FPDA’s Executive Manager Joe Koima. The Keltiga model farm was launched by FPDA General Manager and CEO Mark Worinu.

Mr Worinu said farmers in this part of Western Highlands were known for growing potato, besides kaukau and other vegetables. Growing bulb onion is something new.

He said authorities had responded to an article written about farmer John Pup, and his bulb onion farm in 2016. They immediately sent officers to Pup’s village. The farmer had been growing bulb onions since 2013 and he needed help from the authorities. 

At Kelta, FPDA officers learnt that Pup had been growing bulb onions without any technical support.

Mr Worinu said since then, FPDA extension advisors, who have been managing potato farmers in the same area, brought bulb onion under their program.

“Today I am proud to announce that because of one man’s sacrifice and commitment to grow bulb onion, the whole community will have access the water supply. Farmers will have to use water on their farms as well as for drinking,” Worinu said.

He said Kelta was a peaceful community after having gone through tribal fights some years back. Worinu is happy to see that people have since become organized, to embrace this new development in agriculture, in their community.

“At FPDA we do not provide everything to farmers, we only assist as and when farmers themselves have started the process. We do not believe in paper farmers and middlemen. If you are serious about taking farming as a business, we are there to help you grow,” Worinu said.

Mr Worinu said the national government’s priority was now on agriculture and therefore, urged people to take farming seriously as a business.

He said the government has realized that more than 80 per cent of its people are stuck on their land, therefore, the current Marape-led Government has prioritized agriculture as a major revenue earner for the country.

“We are doing extension services, something that has been lacking since the DPI (Department of Primary Industry) days where DPI officers would carry extension services where even domesticated animals would even be treated for diseases and food crops and coffee trees were well pruned and managed,” he said.

In a little way, FPDA is reviving the extension services where extension advisors have been stationed in almost all parts of the country providing advice and extension services to farmers specialized in growing fresh produce, he said.

Mr Worinu told the people of Kelta that market was not a problem, the problem was consistency in supplying quality produce to the buyers and consumers.

He said big players in the market space including hotels, require consistency and when that is missing, they import from outside.

“To address some of these problems, FPDA has secured funding through GoPNG from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to address market woes through the Market for Village Farmers (MVF) Project,” he said.

MVF is currently working in selected provinces to address market issues for farmers and find a way around to provide market accessibility for the farmers to supply consistently.

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