Sago is traditional staple for many households in PNG. It is predominately staple food crop of the wet lowlands of Western, Gulf, the entire province of East Sepik, parts of West Sepik, Manus, Madang, and Morobe and small portion of New Ireland and North Solomon Provinces. Sago has very high potential of becoming an export crop in the future if given the prominence it deserves.
Sago starch extraction is moderately labour intensive and methods vary from area to area within the country. The labour required for the extraction of sago starch is probably the major stress on sago based farming system. despite this minor negative implication, Government is vigorously pursuing for the development of this dormant industry into a vibrant one to act as a catalyst in import substitution of cereal imports and also for rural employment and income generation.
The Vegetable industry comprises of traditional and introduced varieties. Estimation of production is rather difficult due to the traditional farming systems of intercropping, fragmented production areas, substantial on-farm consumption and inadequate data on marketed quantities.
The principal area of growing introduced vegetables is the highlands region. An estimated 25,000 tonnes of vegetables are produced in the highlands and are sold at urban centres through out Papua New Guinea.
Recent estimates of market demand for introduced vegetables through formal market outlets indicated a growth in demand from 11,200 tonnes to 15,400 tonnes and the demand is increasing rapidly annually.
A Fresh Produce Development Company (FPDC) was established in 1986 as a joint venture between the Government of PNG and New Zealand. The primary function of the company is information dissemination on all aspect of fresh fruit and vegetable production, the major factor hindering the industry growth and to assist with technical information and advice on improving fruits and vegetables industry in the country, with a focus on self sufficiency in production and processing.
Sorghum and Millet are not produced to any significant level in PNG, even though these crops could fit in well the farming systems, especially in low rainfall environments. Sorghum and Millets are imported by the Feed mills for the livestock industry, and currently, the Lae Feed Mill alone imports 20,000 tonnes of Sorghum per year.
Trails in Markham Valley indicated that sorghum and millets perform well. In the 1977driught, the sorghum crops at Erap and Mutzing produced over 2 tons/ha on fields where maize and rice failed. After harvest, cattle were allowed to graze on the stalks (which were one of the few green plants left in the drought).
The Sorghum and Millet Policy Goal
Commercial Maize (corn) is principally grown in the Markham Valley, to feed the industry. Small-scale subsistence or road site maize production is however widespread all over PNG
Commercial Maize production by small farmers in the Markham Valley has ceased over the past 5 years a s a result of increasing production costs and the lack of credit to support the producers, also the relatively low prices being offered by the Commercial Feed Industries. Two large-scale producers (Rumion Piggery and Trukai Farms) are the only producers of commercial maize in the Markham Valley at the moment (cultivating between 500 - 1000ha each, depending on the climate)
Seed cost is one of the limiting factors in maize production. This is because all pure seed have to be imported (as a result of lack of seed development and production in PNG))
The Maize Policy Goal
The Maize Improvement Policy is to promote domestic maize production, as a component of the Grain Industry and in support of the feed and food industries in Papua New Guinea, through a farming systems approach
Peanuts and soybean are two legume crops of major importance and both have potential for down-streaming processing to support the feed and food industry in PNG.
Peanut is a commercial crop for many small farmers, especially in the Markham Valley. Sales are by the road side markets (since the collapse of the Feed Mill in the 1980's). Three to four crops of peanuts are grown by households each year, and is an essential source of revenue for the households. It is one crop striving on each on its own without much research and extension support. Seed quality (size and purity) has deteriorated over the years\, and this needs to be improved. lack of processing facilities (into oil or peanut butter) undermines the potential of the peanut industry. Roadside markets are limited, thus farmers are limited in how much they could produce. Increasing costs of imports (oil and peanut butter) seem to indicate that domestic viability of a processing faculty may be economical, provided that the issue of aflatoxin and other moulds and toxins could be addressed.
Soybean on the other hand, is an important commodity for the food industry, and is incorporated as a protein component in feeds. Soybean production has virtually ceased, as a result pest problems.
Research into appropriate varieties of soybean should be reinitiated for PNG conditions, not only for the production, but also processing.
Soybeans, like peanuts and most legume crops are very important in the natural restoration and enrichment of solids, particularly for Nitrogen\n. Effective rotation programs should be developed, for the long term sustainable management for all crops-land to include rotation of legions crop.
The Edible Oils and Leguminous Crops Policy Goal
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