The partnership is for three years at a cost of K3 million which will see FPDA providing technical assistance and mobilizing farmers to use their land and prioritized farming especially potatoes.
Southern Highlands Provincial Administrator Joseph Cajetan said agriculture is one of five key priority areas the Provincial administration has embarked on, in the province.
He added that the provincial administration has established a potato factory in Pangia district and the partnership between FPDA will boost the technical aspects of the farmers and grow more potatoes.
“Under the leadership of Governor William Powi, we have discouraged people looking for free-handouts, and instead encouraged them to go back to work their land.”
He said so far the provincial administration has spent more than K200,000 on potato seedlings for the farmers to grow and cultivate in their land.
Mr Cajetan said they have been getting positive feedback from the farmers with more people interested in growing potato in the province.
He gave an example of a farmer selling 50 bags of potatoes and getting K10,000 for his sales.
“This initiative has proven fruitful and we are looking to increase the number of potato bags to 1000 at the factory.”
He added that people’s interest in growing potatoes has prompted the provincial administration to partner with the FPDA to provide technical support to the farmers so they can grow healthy potatoes and make a living from it.
‘Potato is a very unique crop that needs a lot of attention from the farmers, in order to grow.
“Therefore, we need the expert from FPDA to assist our farmers to grow the potato,” Mr Cajetan said.
Meantime, General Manager of FPDA, Mark Worinu thanked the Southern Highlands Provincial Administration for collaborating with FPDA.
He said food security has been a concern for the people given the challenges of COVID-19 and other disasters and natural catastrophes.
Mr Worinu also pointed out that income generation for the people of Southern Highlands is a major concern that FPDA will try to assist them in terms of turning farming into a profit-making project.
“Within this arrangement, we would like to roll out the seed development program all across the province in the next three years.
Mr Worinu stressed that FPDA aims to see the people of Southern Highlands participating meaningfully in making use of their land resources to go into potato farming.
He said FPDA would also be introducing other farming programs including sweet potato, and bulb onions in the province.
He assured the provincial administration that FPDA will work closely with it and make sure to address the challenges they face amicably.
“I must assure you that you have the full support of the FPDA management and the board and we’ll ensure that what we put together in the agreement will be effectively implemented over the next three years,” Mr Worinu said.
He also mentioned that the way forward for PNG to develop is to engage in horticulture programs.