THE Minister for Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) Duddley Kopu says small scale farm mechanization project is targeted at supporting the enhancement of productivity of land and labour in the country.
Kopu was speaking at the officially opening of the new MAL workshop facility under the project “Enhancing Productivity of Land and labour through Small Scale Mechanization for Subsistence Farmers in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands” on Monday at the Taiwan Technical Mission farm, East Honiara.
“This morning (yesterday) we are here to witness the beginning of an important sub-sector within the agriculture that will support the enhancement of productivity of land and labour through small scale farm mechanization for farmers,” he said.
He said that the project has been developed to address small scale related issues.
“This project as we all know has been developed to address small scale mechanization looking at issues related to crop drying, milling, processing, roasting and shelling of crops such as peanuts.
“I have been informed that all the machinery will be developed under the project in both PNG and Solomon Islands.
“This workshop or facility will be used to fabricate and scientifically test under local conditions, appropriate small scale machineries.
“I believe there is still limited use of farm machineries out there in our rural areas.
“Therefore, introducing appropriate farm machineries to the farming public will encourage individuals, families, and communities to venture into livelihoods involving downstream processing and value-adding of agriculture products,” he said.
“It must be said that is not easy to task designing, fabricating, testing and recommending the final product. It will take time. At least we have to start somewhere.
The Minister thanked NARI-PNG who has already done some machinery development which will be duplicated and fabricated here in the country (Solomon’s).
He said that if sustainability is to be taken seriously, local manufacturing of these machines has to be happening.
“There has been concern from rural farmers that imported farm machinery does have maintenance issues which are sometimes difficult to address and spare parts are hard to access in remote areas.
“The partners are therefore anticipating that under this project, the beginning of an industry to fabricate locally designed small scale agricultural machinery that will utilize local resources should be kicked-stared,” he said.
He added that MAL and local associate partners are looking forward to utilizing the scientific approaches to develop small scale agricultural machinery that is affordable and adaptable to local conditions.
“Agricultural machinery should help mitigate the effects of climate change by enhancing farming techniques and labour utilization and building resilience in communities.
“In the face of natural disasters, we need to be prepared to provide emergency relief of food and other products that will put affected communities back on track as soon as possible.
“The use of farm machinery would be able to effect rapid production of food for emergencies and recovery of affected communities,” Kopu stressed.
By STEPHEN DIISANGO