Economic development in Finschhafen, Morobe province, remains a priority for the district for improved livelihood of the rural communities.
The Finschhafen electoral revealed that considerable input was already made in agricultural development in the last few years and would continue in 2011 to develop the rural sector.
Finschhafen’s present district development priorities are roads and transport rehabilitation, economic improvement, and integrated community development programme.
Finschhafen MP Theodore Zurenuoc’s first secretary Stanley Leka said the electoral office had put emphasis on selected commodities such as coffee, cocoa, rice and poultry.
Finschhafen MP Theodore Zurenuoc cutting the ribbon to officially open a new rice mill shed at Kangaruo in Finschhafen, Morobe province, last month
These initiatives have been supported using Zurenuoc’s discretionary funds.
Leka said with coffee, the focus was on promoting improved production and quality.
He said the electoral office had since 2009 distributed 205 coffee machines to coffee farmers. This was facilitated through an exchange programme in which coffee machines were exchanged for coffee bags.
The coffee bags were then sold and the income was used to subsidise the purchase of more coffee machines, which were then distributed to other parts of Finschhafen.
Leka said 100 coffee machines were given to the Kote local level government (LLG) and in return got 55 bags, which were then sold, and money earned was used in purchasing another 55 machines marked for coffee-growing areas in the Yabim/Mape LLG.
Farmers from Hube LLG got 50 machines and in 2011, the Brum/Kuat LLG will get another 50 machines.
Leka said the coffee machines were given only to identified groups.
He said training of trainers’ courses would be conducted for representatives from each group on improved practices and technologies of coffee production and basic bookkeeping.
The electoral office is also aiming at promoting co-operatives in the district.
In cocoa, Leka said they had worked with interested farmers in establishing central cocoa nurseries in villages through a concept called ‘central community cocoa nursery’.
“The electoral office provides seeds which are sown in nurseries for distribution to farmers, depending on how many seedlings each farmer wants,” he said.
“The district has so far established 23 community cocoa nurseries and distributed 100, 000 seedlings to farmers, especially in the Kote and Yabim/Mape areas, and plans are in place for more nurseries in cocoa-growing areas.
“More farmers have shown interest and another request of 600, 000 seedlings from 40 villages will be attended to in 2011.”
Leka also said they had purchased two rice-milling machines and plan to get some more for the district.
The electoral office has also established a mini rice central marketing facility in Gagidu, which will be a point for buying, milling and selling of rice farmed in Finschhafen.
Although rice was introduced in Finschhafen for many years, an estimated 80% of farmers have been cultivating it mostly for their own consumption.
With the new initiative, farmers will be encouraged to go into commercialisation.
Leka said the village poultry initiative was aimed at addressing nutritional needs of village households and would target rural women.
In 2011, three villages will be piloted.
His team is setting model farms in strategic locations as demonstration blocks and to stock up seeds and planting materials for distribution to farmers.
This will be undertaken also as a drought-preparedness initiative.
The ICDP initiative revolves around human development in terms of changing mindset and attitude so as to make self-evaluation, identify one’s potential and contribute meaningfully to daily sustenance and community development.
The district is presently focusing on programmes in disabilities, music for development, pikinini sport (soccer and basketball), ex-convicts, beautification and historical sites, spiritual development, women in agriculture and culture and tourism – all to come into effect in 2011.