Media Release 12 September 2023
Improving livelihoods through science and training
Potato production in Papua New Guinea is about to take a leap forward with the completion of a new tissue culture laboratory for the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) set to boost production in the country.
The laboratory in Kainantu, Eastern Highlands Province, will produce clean, disease-free seed potato and sweet potato planting materials to distribute to the surrounding communities, doubling the number of seeds available and improving productivity right across the country.
Caption: The new FPDA training facility.
The project is funded by the Australian Government’s Incentive Fund program and is complemented by a new training center. The training center will enable the FPDA to increase the scope of its agricultural extension training programs by at least ten percent to reach 8,551 farming households.
The training will be accredited by the National Training Council and will contribute to improved food and nutrition security, quality of life, income and business opportunities for farming communities and others who depend on the horticulture sector for subsistence and livelihoods.
Australian High Commissioner Jon Philp visited the community this week as the project comes to its final stages of completion. “This new facility is an example of Australia and PNG working with local partners to increase livelihoods and empower farmers to create better outcomes for their families and communities.”
The national potato scheme has had challenges meeting supply demands since its inception in 2006 with several periods where seeds and plantlets were not available for months at a time, which set farmers and other agribusiness and cooperatives back considerably.
FPDA Chief Executive Officer, Mark Worinu says that in addition to increasing yields and driving productivity, the new facility will provide excellent training resources to the local community.
“There are ten self-contained units onsite in addition to the classrooms and e-Library, including access for persons with disability. Through our partnerships with local tertiary institutions, we are encouraging a wide range of training and education at the facility which will become a hub of knowledge,” Worinu said.
The new facility will help support the scheme and ensure a steady supply of disease and pest free materials to improve sustainability of the industry.
The integrated development and training center will be fully fitted out with a library, office, classrooms, and a fully equipped laboratory. Seeds and plantlets will yield the resilient Irish potato and other commercial crops, such as sweet potato and bulb onion, which will be targeted for distribution. The laboratory will double up as a seed bank for indigenous crops.
Through Phase 4 of the Incentive Fund program, the Australian Government invested more than PGK21million in economic development to support agriculture and rural development across PNG. Phase 5 of the Incentive Fund commenced on 1 July 2023 with applications open for projects from all development sectors including health, education, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, and economic development. Visit https://incentivefund.org/ to apply.
For further information, including access to related materials, please contact the Australian High Commission media team: +675 7090 0100