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Subject: Potato industry in major crisis

Engan Lenge
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Date Posted: Tue, Oct 14 2008, 11:21:50am

I'm seriously disturbed that this crisis has gone on for years unnoticed. I don't know where to start on this major crisis but this requires a joint effort from all our MPs to rescue the potato farmers in Enga, especially Surinki and Laiagam. Vegetable farming has only been one of the major source of revenue in these 2 areas, if this fails then theres nothing else the people would turn to.
May I kindly request the MP (Lagaip Porgera) to lobby support from other highlands MPs and enact guidelines to minimise or stop this importing of potatoes from Australia. I understand this importing is stupidly unnecessary with no guidelines to protect local farmers in PNG. This is a leadership oversight and has jeorpadised vegetable farming in Enga, Highlands and PNG as a whole!!! Leaders and public servants in responsible positions need to wake up and do something about this crisis.

Potato industry in major crisis – Alele

PAPUA New Guinea’s potato industry faces imminent closure and the Government is to be blamed, says a leading fresh food supplier.
General manager of Alele Fresh Produce Graeme Ross said in Lae yesterday a new deadly disease had penetrated the industry, which earned K100 million a year for the country.
Mr Ross said the disease had affected industry since 2003 through illegal imported potatoes from Australia, which did not undergo proper quarantine checks.
He said the potato disease was discovered in Ok Tedi, Surinki, Telefomin and Laiagam.
Mr Ross said the Agriculture Department and the National Agriculture Research Institute were aware of the disease but had done little to eradicate it.
He said the disease was first introduced with a shipment of imported potatoes that was brought in by the Enga Provincial Government as seeds for farmers in the province.
He said because the Engans did not know how to plant the new varieties of potatoes, they had trouble selling it.
Mr Ross said farmers from the Western Highlands bought the potatoes from the Engans and that was how the disease spread throughout the Highlands.
Mr Ross said different varieties of potatoes were given to farmers to grow with seeds distributed or sold at local shops that carry more unknown diseases. “The potato disease came into the country after the National Government signed the Free Trade Agreement in 1990, which destroyed the industry,” Mr Ross said.
“In 1986 the Government was well on track to protect the industry when there was a ban on vegetables coming into Papua New Guinea and the industry was growing quickly and consumers got quality products.
“Consultants said we cannot grow potato in PNG but we grow the best potatoes all year around,” Mr Ross said.
He said farmers needed certified potato seeds but their attempts to get seeds from the potato seed industry for the last five months were unsuccessful.
“The Government policy is totally wrong because the imported potatoes sold in shops are unfit for human consumption,” Mr Ross said.
“There should be no potato sold with green stuff on them like those in the shops.”
The Post-Courier visited the Lae market yesterday and found that farmers could not sell their produce at the shops because they were getting very low prices for a while imported potatoes were sold at much higher prices.
Potato farmer Sammy Waiyo from Daulo, Eastern Highlands Province, said they were being charged K1.20 to K4 a kilo by shop owners for their produce.
In the meantime, the imported, green patched and sprouting potatoes were sold at the same shops for K16.37 a kilo.

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