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FAO in Papua New Guinea

Hela in dialogue with FAO for agriculture improvement

FAO Hela based Field Officer, Mr Amos Libe (from right), FAO Technical Officer Ms Helmtrude Sikas-Iha, Hela Deputy Provincial Administrator, Mr Eddie Yuwi and a farmer in Tari during the FAO visit to Hela.

Tari, Hela Province, Papua New Guinea: Hela Province stands to benefit from a collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in the area of livelihood improvement. FAO PNG representatives Ms Helmtrude Sikas-Iha and Mr Amos Libe, Hela based FAO Field Officer were in Tari-Pori and Komo-Margarima districts of Hela Province recently on a scoping mission to identify potential partners and communities for the agricultural livelihoods recovery project.

FAO Technical Officer Ms Helmtrude Sikas-Iha said Hela is one of the disadvantaged provinces with recurring natural disasters in drought and frost and recently the earthquake, affecting local communities’ food security, agriculture and livelihoods; compounded by the negative impacts of tribal conflicts and violence. 

Ms Sikas-Iha said the purpose of the mission was to explore a possible partnership with the Provincial Government and the Hela United Church and to work with the church network in the province to support farming families and communities to increase their local food production systems to be more resilient and more capable of absorbing the impact of, and recovering from the disruption of natural disaster events.

Ms Sikas-Iha said in addition to the the project already being implemented in parts of Southern Highlands and Margarima, FAO intends to expand its technical support in sustainable agriculture to Hela in line with provincial plans.

Welcomed by the Hela Deputy Administrator for Policy & Program Management Implementation, Mr. Eddie Yuwi, was thankful of FAO’s visit and acknowledged its presence in Margarima with agricultural activities.

In dialogue with the United Church Hela Region Program Coordinator, Mr James Komengi and United Church Bishop, Reverend Steven Bai, updated FAO on the faith-based organisation’s partnerships in Hela in agriculture, education and law and order. They were grateful of the FAO intervention and the value it would add to the work already underway in promoting peace and good order in the community.

The FAO mission team also met with the Komo Margarima Chief Executive Officer Mendeai - Mr Mark, the district team and community leaders from Margarima and were appreciative of the project. They mentioned that the district is vulnerable to natural disasters such as drought and frost and lately was greatly affected by the 2018 earthquake and therefore view this project a to be timely for improved livelihoods.

Those met during the mission mentioned that over the years, due to over-cultivation, farmers have lost crop variability. Farmers, who are mostly women, have been replanting and rotating the same vines of sweet potato and the yield and quality of the cultivars have declined greatly hence, were appreciative of clean seeds that the project will be introducing as there is great need for new and adaptive varieties.

As part of this mission, the first multiplication sites in Margarima received seeds and planting materials of selected food crops. These included varieties of early maturing sweet potato and quality protein and open pollinated maize or corn, supplied by the National Agricultural Research Institute’s (NARI) research stations in Tambul, Western Highlands Province, and Aiyura, Eastern Highlands Province.

The partnership dialogue will be strengthened with a Memorandum of Understanding between FAO, the Hela Provincial Administration and partners in the province.