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Political rhetoric soars while agriculture suffers from neglect

Agricultural neglect
Erap food security station: despite government boasts, dying a slow death from neglect

JULIE BADUI OWA | My Land, My Country

LAE - The recent flooding of an important agricultural station in Morobe Province has revealed years of neglect by the National Department of Agriculture and Livestock.

The food security station at Erap outside Morobe was once a central player in agriculture research and animal husbandry.

But the station has deteriorated over 20 years with many of the staff leaving for other jobs.

Food Security Officer Richard Ngahan who has lived at the station for seven years says every year they see less support coming from the national and provincial governments.

“We approached our headquarters in Port Moresby and the provincial government but we have not received any response from them,” he said.

Erap station is a government institution that was used for livestock breeding, aquaculture and rice development.

On a recent weekend, staff vacated houses which became partly submerged after the Erap River burst its banks and flooded the area. It’s a longstanding problem affecting an important government asset.

Margaret Titus, a rice project officer from the Morobe Division of Agriculture, says the provincial government is unable to support the station due to its own limited funding.

“We are connected because of the rice development program. With the current state of the station, this will affect the farmers involved in rice training,” Ms Titus said.

The paddocks are now empty and the bush has taken over. Squatters have also moved into the area to settle. The lack of funding is in contrast to annual government rhetoric of the importance of agriculture in Papua New Guinea.

Julie Badui-Owa is a journalist with EMTV's Lae Bureau


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