I’M CONCERNED about the state of affairs at what used to be called Cape Rodney in the Abau District.
The issue comes down to this: 30 years ago, along with a team of mostly expatriate people of the rubber extension service within the Department of primary Industry, I created a series of smallholder subdivisions in that area.
But now the rubber is a decade overdue for replanting. Except at the later Upulima subdivision, the trees are dying.
I cannot get anyone at the Department of Agriculture and Livestock to respond - even though I have submitted a respectful paper on the subject.
Some 5,000 people are resident in the area, so another social disaster is evolving before our eyes, and all quite unnecessary.
If public servants do their job, I am sure the Asian Development Bank, which funded the first round of planting, would be interested in a rubber replanting aid scheme.
This could be based on the latest clonal material which has already been brought into Papua New Guinea, vastly improving productivity.
If alongside such a project, an investor were to come to develop oil palm on the 20,000 hectares of vacant Amau land across the river from Moreguina, a strong and diversified economy would result.
I ask myself, is this not how employment and rural development are supposed to occur? Yet the government appears to have departed from one of its proper functions of fostering wealth creation in PNG's rural areas.
The township of Moreguina, which our 1970s team had a hand in designing, is now a run-down rural slum without phone, power or water supply. It is a disgrace.
(Incidentally the name Moreguina is not traditional: it was coined by Chris Arnold, head of the department’s rubber section at the time.)