Long dry spell affects local oil palm growers - Solomon Star News

Long dry spell affects local oil palm growers

22 October 2015

The National, PNG - WEST New Britain’s small oil palm growers are feeling the effects of the long dry spell in low fruit harvests and a slump in market price for palm oil.

The small growers, both village oil palm and land lease settlers, are facing low prices, low harvests and dried up food gardens with many blocks in the Mosa and Hoskins and East Nakanai LLGs going up in flames due to very hot, dry conditions. The small holders extension support manager of Hargy Oil Palm Limited Chris Tondiwi, in a brief statement, gave an assessment of the situation faced by the small growers in East Nakanai and Central Nakanai areas.

According to Tondiwi, water tanks are empty and creeks are drying up, forcing people to walk long distances to obtain clean water for drinking and cooking.

Sources of clean drinking water are scarce and streams and water holes are being frequented by livestock which leads to contamination.

Food crops are drying up, staple crops like taro, sweet potatoes, tapioca and bananas are producing very little while fires are burning gardens and some oil palm blocks have been burnt.

Tondiwi said the smallholders were supplementing their garden food with store goods which they could barely afford at this time of low oil palm prices.

He noted also that despite the low oil palm price, growers are continuing to harvest.

Meanwhile the acting project manager of Oil Palm Industries Corporation with the Hoskins project Michael Buka said 302 smallholder blocks were burnt by bush fires in the Mosa, Hoskins and Talasea LLG areas.

Michael said the destruction was massive and he feared that up to 1,000 people were affected and may need assistance.

Officers from the provincial disaster response centre are carrying out assessments.