One remote community in Telefomin district in West Sepik province has given its backing for a major oil palm and rubber project.
People from several villages in one of the country’s least-developed areas say they support the proposed agriculture project because it will open up more cash income-earning opportunities and bring in much-needed basic services including roads and enable accessibility to markets.
Villagers in traditional dress, including penis gourds, welcome visitors
Villagers, mainly landowners, told a public hearing conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock that Telefomin had been neglected for too long and there had been lack of development and services for many years.
Villagers from the rural communities have suffered from poor or inadequate transport and infrastructure, market accessibility, health, schools, police and social services.
The public hearing was held at Worikori village in the Namea local level government early this month to seek the views of land and resource owners on the proposed Wammy rural development project, which aims to introduce a major oil palm and rubber project covering over 84,000 ha.
Villagers from the project area had to walk for two days or more to reach Worikori in time for the hearing.
Many people who attended, especially the elderly men and women, wept as the helicopter transporting the government team touched down.
|A big crowd turned up for the public hearing, many having walked for a day or more to Worikori|
Visitors were given a traditional welcome including the rubbing of mud all over their bodies.
Ward councillor Esorom Nasone, in welcoming the government team, said village people from rural communities suffered from lack of basic services and would welcome potential agricultural development which would be beneficial and open up opportunities. He said resource owners should realise that by making their customary land available to investors then they could expect to see changes in their livelihood.
Managing director of landowner company Wammy Ltd, John Anis, said more than 3, 000 people from 25 villages were supportive of the proposed project which would also involve other agricultural crops besides oil palm and rubber.
He said the project would lead to introduction of services to remote areas including roads, airstrips, and aid posts and improve marketing services.
The project will have a big impact in the people’s lives and boost the local and national economy.
He said the people had been crying for development over the years and this project would provide that opportunity and boost the image of Telefomin.