North Fly students complete training in Israel

Three students from the North Fly District in Western Province were among the first six students from PNG to successfully complete their 11-month hands-on, an intensive and transformative agriculture training in Israel.

Despite the war between the Hamas from Palestine and the host country Israel they were able to complete their training.

Part of their program include farming using Israeli technology and innovation such as precision farming, drip irrigation system, and post-harvest, an Israeli technology which is widely applied in harsh desert farm lands in Israel and other parts of the world to boost productivity, sustainability, and profitability.

Local MP and Shadow Minister for Mining and Environment Conservation and Climate Change, James Donald said he was proud as chairman of North Fly District Development Authority (NFDDA) that sponsored them, while receiving them upon their safe return to the country on Sunday, June 16.

“To see them not only successfully complete their training but also their commitment, dedication and bravery demonstrated throughout the duration of their study – to be able to adapt and cope with, and work in farms in hot desert environments is one thing and, their ability to remain calm and steadfast during the conflict between the Hamas terrorists from Palestine and host nation Israel, was a testament of real resilience and determination for success in the agriculture space for North Fly, Western and PNG,” Mr Donald said.

Mr Donald said his two staff and a DDA board member were on hand in Israel and attended their graduation last week on his behalf, the DDA, North Fly district, Western and PNG as a whole.

He said the trio would return and immediately be integrated in NFDDA’s agriculture division where they will apply the new knowledge and skills to drive real improvements in the district’s farming practices and outputs.

He said the NFDDA under his leadership had commenced the process of sending next batch of 20 students to Israel for similar training before end of this year with the aim to train up to a maximum of 50 or more students by year 2027.

“This will enable the district to embark on large-scale commercial farming to supply variety of fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables for local markets in North Fly, Western and neigbouring provinces.

“We won't rest until we mobilize the right people, right technology and right expertise in the agriculture space,” Mr Donald said.

He said the NFDDA entered into an agreement with Israeli government through the Innovative Agro Industries in Port Moresby and paid a K1 million as part of the partnership arrangement last year.

“The training in Israel will be an ongoing program as part of our commitment and vision to make agriculture the beacon of hope and prosperity for North Fly and Western Province after OK Tedi Mine closure,” Mr. Donald said.

He said it was not only necessary but ‘very critical’ for his district to invest in training of young people in agriculture.

“To take agriculture to the whole new level means serious business. Action involves real work, commitment, determination, and sacrifice,” said the  North Fly MP.

He said his district was sending students to learn and acquire skills in more advanced farming methods and techniques, equipment, use of appropriate technology (machineries) and innovation.

“We need highly trained individuals to be able to take the whole agriculture industry forward. My district is currently running two different educational training sponsorship programs. One is for agriculture alone.”

He said training in Israel was in line with the district development plan and agriculture was among the main pillars of development in the district and Western.

“We are training human resource in Israel basically to upskill them on high agriculture technology and innovation.

Donald said Western’s key development pillars were health, education, agribusiness and enabling infrastructure.

He said the vision was for Western Province people to be healthy, educated and wealthy by having enough food, have surplus to sell for income, have balanced meal three times a day, and live a healthy life.

“Western Province has a master plan for promotion of agriculture in the province.

Mr Donald said it was up to each district in the province to implement to achieve a collective vision.

He said his district is already implementing some of the things captured in the master plan. These include:

  • Signed a partnership arrangement with Israeli government to train students from North Fly in various agriculture training institutions in Israel.
  • Supporting the rubber growers in North Fly with the price enhancement package of K500,000 annually to North Fly Rubber Limited (2019 – 2022) and increased K1m annually these five years (2023- 2027).
  • Totally revamping the agriculture base at Samagos in Kiunga by transforming the area into agricultural hub with the establishment of rice factory which is due for opening later this year.
  • Introduction of new crops such as vanilla estate and a factory being built and opened already in partnership with key stakeholders. NFDDA invested K1.15 million worth of shares for its five 115 wards in five LLGs of Olsobip, Star Mountains, Ningerum, Kiunga Rural and Kiunga Urban, each receiving K10,000 worth of shares.
  • Variety of vegetable crops being grown there for commercial purposes and providing necessary support to individual small holders and community-based groups.
  • Establishment of an agribusiness entity, the North Fly Agro Limited, which is wholly owned by the people of North Fly District through their five local level governments or LLGs.
  • NFDDA signed a partnership agreement with a third level airline operator Kobio Aviation, through its agribusiness entity North Fly Agro Limited to transport fresh produce and vegetables into Kiunga from rural areas of West Sepik and Western provinces for commercial purposes.
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