Rice farming is becoming increasingly popular in East New Britain

Rice farming in East New Britain Province has experienced a surge in production, particularly among farmer groups in the districts of Kokopo and Pomio, signaling a positive momentum in the industry.

The provincial food crops program officer at the Division of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Shilla Sato, highlighted that Kokopo is at the forefront of production, boasting 25 hectares of rice farms in the rural wards of Marambu and Ganai, as well as in the neighboring wards of Bitapaka LLG.

Melkoi LLG in Pomio ranks as the second largest producer, alongside Sinivit LLG, both located in the Pomio District.

Despite the increasing cost of rice in stores, it has cemented its position as a staple in nearly every household.

Ms. Sato highlighted the expansion of rice farming beyond traditional institutions like schools and the Kerevat Correctional Institution. She emphasized the province’s commitment to promoting rice farming through its dedicated program.

The provincial government is exploring ways to support agriculture by providing machinery and equipment, as the national government plans to reduce imports of products like rice. This initiative aims to address the labor-intensive nature of farming and boost local production.

Rice cultivation in Melkoi, Sinivit, and Bitapaka LLGs proves that it can thrive in East New Britain due to the region’s rich volcanic soil. This indicates potential for widespread cultivation across the area.

The management of Deep Deen Plantation in Sinivit LLG is deserving of further commendation for their successful cultivation of approximately 4 hectares of rice. Their recent second batch harvest yielded over a tonne of bags, totaling 21 by 50 kilograms.

Plantation supervisor Eddie Kalwa stated that following guidance from OISCA Rabaul International on rice farming, they procured seeds from the provincial DAL office and commenced planting in October.

“We have already completed the first harvest of the crops we planted in October. Now, we are preparing for the second harvest, which we will take to Bitapaka LLG for milling,” he explained.

Kalwa mentioned that they are currently cultivating the ‘Jasmine’ and ‘White Finch’ varieties and are reaping the benefits as subsistence farmers. They are also selling the surplus produce to generate additional income.

Ms. Sato mentioned that free rice seeds and technical support are available for those interested. The seeds can be obtained from the DAL headquarters in Kokopo, as well as from the district and LLG Rural Development Officers (RDO).

Attention to all young individuals who are currently unemployed and interested in pursuing a career in rice farming, we invite you to visit us at the PHQ or your local district and LLGs to receive the necessary assistance and guidance.

In addition, she recommended that the province should implement appropriate packaging for locally produced rice.

This year, we are taking steps to elevate our packaging standards by inviting the National Institute of Standards and Industrial Technology (NISIT) to certify a designated area or building in the province. Our goal is to ensure that our packaging meets the highest standards. Additionally, we are thrilled to introduce “Rabaul Sweet Rice” as the label for our locally produced rice. Anticipate the availability of this premium product at the Kokopo market by mid-year.



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