Village leader inspires rice farming in community

Village leader inspires rice farming in community

Village leader inspires rice farming in community

A village leader has inspired his community to participate in rice farming after he participated in Trukai’s Smart Farmer Program at the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) earlier this month.

Ward Member for Kaibaira LLG, John Potol, 47, from Volavolo village, Gazelle Peninsula District in Rabaul joined the third batch of more than 150 rice farmers who participated in Trukai’s Smart Farmer program at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (Unitech) in Lae and the Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby.

With big plans for more than 2,000 people under his LLG, Potol has already dedicated a hectare of land to the newly acquired knowledge in irrigated rice farming.

 He remarked that he has seen the need to farm rice in his village, through the increase of the prices of goods in shops and the benefits for his community through commercializing their very own rice.

“My people consume a lot of rice and this shows that rice is a part of our everyday meal. The benefits gained from farming rice are endless. This is securing a future for my people and our children,” said Potol.

Potol described Trukai’s Smart Farmer program as an innovative initiative that has changed his perception of rice farming in East New Britain province and encouraged many local village leaders and incorporated groups to participate in the program.

“Rice seeds were given to us in 2022 by our district officers, which was an initiative by our provincial government, but with no proper knowledge of how to grow rice we used dry land rice farming. It was hard work and very labor intensive.

“From the start of the two-week program, I have learned so much about irrigated rice farming and the value that it will have on my people. We can finally venture away from cocoa and start thinking about sustaining ourselves through food security, employment for our people, and creating wealth through rice farming. I believe that this program will change the way our local people see rice. This is the future of a sustainable village and it promotes our local economy,” said Potol.

More than 300 farmers all over Papua New Guinea have participated in the Smart Farmer program since its inception early last year.

Trukai’s Rice Development Manager, Aina Davis commended the third batch of rice farmers who participated in the Smart Farmer program.

“It is exciting to see so many rice farmers from all over PNG, from all walks of life, attending and acquiring essential knowledge on irrigated rice farming. The program is created to ensure all farmers can sustain themselves and their communities before they can transition from semi-commercial to commercial rice farmers,” said Davis. 

Davis also explained that the program has been adapted to suit local Papua New Guinean rice farmers.

“The objective of the Smart Farmer program is to shift from dry land to irrigated rice farming by using adopted irrigated rice farming systems that best suit PNG’s way of rice farming,” said Davis.

Trukai Industries also looks at sustainable ways to ensure that other concepts of farming, which include best crop management practices, integrated farming, quality management, quality grain management, and integrated pest management systems are incorporated.

For more than 30 years, Trukai has invested millions of kina to develop the agriculture industry through research, its infrastructure, its partnership with agriculture institutions around the country, and capacity building through training such as the Smart Farmer program.