Nobuyuki Watanabe, the Japanese Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, has said that since 2003, the Japanese Government has spent K19.2 million supporting rice farming in Madang and East Sepik.

Mr Watanabe said, “K11.2million was funded in the first phase of the promotion of smallholder rice production project from December 2003 to November 2008. Another extension of K8 million was later funded in the second phase of the project from December 2011 to November 2015, which included Milne Bay.”

The ambassador said that although rice was a staple food for PNG, it was mostly imported. This is why Papua New Guineans are looking to improve food security in certain regions.

“There are 706 smallholder farmers in Madang, which exceeded the set project indicator of 580 farmers. Madang rice ‘Magic Marasin’ is packed, semi-commercialised and sold locally in Madang, which is a good indication of sustainable subsistence rice farming.

“Model farmers in Madang must continue growing rice locally for their own survival and also to improve food security in the province,” Watanabe said.

Joe Naram, the acting assistant director of Madang Agriculture and Livestock, said, “With help from the Japanese Government, we can see progress with rice farming in Madang.

“There is land in Middle Ramu that we were carrying out feasibility studies for rice farming. K2 million will be given to the Madang Provincial Administration from the National Planning Department in the next three weeks to fund a rice farming project there,” Naram said.

“We are focusing on the concept of commercial rice farming for Madang. We will have very big challenges in rice farming if we want to go into commercial rice farming. There will be arrangements made with commercial companies to get their rice supplies from our own local farmers and sell nationwide.”

Image caption: Ambassador Watanabe visited a rice milling facility, where the Japanese Government provided some milling machines, and exchanged views with person in charge in local department, and farmers producing rice under the project. ”Margic Marashin” is locally famous as branded rice.  Picture credit Embassy of Japan in Papua New Guinea.