Another type of corruption: necessary improvements in agriculture practises before 2012

By Tony Flynn - WAU...

This is not about someone stealing our money or goods, this corruption relates to a systematic denial of our future as viable farmers and a denial of our ability to be self sufficient.

I am spending +/-K12,000 per month to prove what is set out below is possible but the following should not be regarded as a reaction to the anticipated 2012 drought. It should be seen as a considered program to introduce PNG to modern agricultural practices and a doorway to self-sufficiency in grains.
There will be more droughts in the near future (not mentioned by our planners). Root crops have very little potential for increased storage and efficient transportation. Papua New Guinea does itself no favour by being almost alone in being reliant on growing root crops.
The writing was on the wall after the 1997 drought. “GET AWAY FROM ROOT CROPS”. Grain crops have a proven ability for long term storage and efficient transportation. Any food distributed in the anticipated 2012 drought is going to be an imported grain (rice). Grains suitable for local production for drought relief; Corn, Rice, Millet (Sorghum) and Wheat.
1. Corn is grown and enjoyed in the remotest village in Papua New Guinea; every villager knows how to grow Corn. Our citizens normally use corn as a fresh vegetable; the use of dried Corn is rare. Other Corn growing countries have dried Corn as their staple food. The various uses of dry Corn should be promoted now, not in 2012. Corn should be promoted now as a storable grain.
2. Rice is eaten readily throughout PNG. Not many villagers know how to grow Rice. The growing and processing of Rice should be encouraged even more than at present. Rice should be promoted as a storable grain.
3. Wheat is grown and enjoyed in a few places, there is every reason to promote it with vigour.
4. Millet (Sorghum) can be processed, as are Corn and Wheat, into acceptable flour. Millet is grown as staple in very dry climates.
Storage of grain crops should be promoted by;
  1. Guaranteed prices coordinated with the provision of locally made and imported storage facilities.
  2. All production has to be purchased at an economic price to encourage production prior to 2012. Any monetary losses will be far less than inaction will bring about in 2012.
Processing equipment should be provided throughout PNG. This would be a springboard for local metalworking industry probably with foreign participation.  
During the 2012 drought the present slash and burn system will be a disaster. It will lead, as in the past, to extensive forest fires. The present system cannot have an acceptable place in the future of PNG.
Grains are not as forgiving of poor farming as are the root crops. The recommendation is for the village farmers to have maximum exposure to an efficient way of changing from the slash and burn technique of their ancestors. The farming system that is suitable for most farmers is the Permanent Bed, Minimum Till method with the beds laid on the contour and draining into grassy spillways for heavy rainfalls.
Used with a rotation including heavy green manures prior to the planting of the grain crop, the fertility of the soil should be maintained for many years. There should be no reason to cut a new garden every year with its obligatory burning of vegetation and trees cut for new fencing. The only extra ground cut would be to extend the permanent farm because the farmer is more productive under the new system.