Young farmer empowers community through rice farming

Young farmer empowers community through rice farming

Young farmer empowers community through rice farming

A passionate young farmer has rallied his community to participate in rice farming after undergoing Trukai’s Smart Farmer Program earlier this year. 

John Gaif, 31, from Atupan village, 26 Umi Atzera LLG in Markham District gathered thirty-two family members from his tribe and allocated two-hectares of land to grow rice using the irrigation rice farming method.  

Gaif’s aim to include his community in this initiative was to create a sense of ownership and inclusivity where all members of the community participated in rice growing.  

“In the past, farming rice was labour intensive on a smallholder scale. But when we participated in the Smart Farmer Program we were taught how water management can help control weeds and pests,” said Gaif. 

“From this plot of two hectares we have harvested five tons of rice just by using irrigation rice farming and this has motivated and encouraged us to venture into ploughing and planting rice in larger areas,” he added.   

Gaif reiterated, “The important thing I learnt from the Smart Farmer Program was the technique. In the past, we used to do dry land rice farming, but this idea of irrigation farming has really
added value to the way we grow rice and I think it is very important for us. Through this process it has cut down labour and cost.” 

Gaif described Trukai’s Smart Farmer Program as the foundation for this new adopted rice farming system in PNG. He encouraged other rice farmers, landowners and incorporated land
groups to support and participate in this program to make use of their land and involve their community.  

“The Smart Farmer Program really encouraged me and broadened my view of farming rice. Rice is not only food but you can make money and go into business. Even bring in multi million kina investments in to Markham District,” said Gaif.  

That is why I am motivated and encouraged to help us grassroots from the village to sustain ourselves through food security and employment and wealth creation. I believe in this program, I am happy and will encourage my community and all my family members to participate in this program and this will be able to help each one of us. This is a very important program that Trukai Industries is doing,” he reiterated.  

Over 220 farmers have participated in the Smart Farmer Program since its inception in January 2023.  

Trukai Industries’ Rice Development Manager Aina Davis explained the partnerships the company has with tertiary institutions in Lae and Port Moresby. 

“Initially we collaborated with the University of Technology (UNITECH) in Lae to drive this program and have now partnered with the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) in Port Moresby. The third batch of participants for the Smart Farmer Program will commence their training in January 2024 at UNITECH and the inaugural first batch at PAU,” said Davis.  

“This program is implemented in stages to ensure farmers are able to sustain themselves first before venturing to semi commercial and then large scale commercial farming. The objective of the Smart Farmer Program is to shift from dry land farming to irrigation farming by using adopted irrigated rice farming systems to suit PNG’s way of rice farming,” she said.  

With this adopted system, Trukai Industries also looks at sustainable ways to ensure that other concepts of farming like best crop management, integrated farming, quality grain management and integrated pest management systems are incorporated. 

Trukai Industries has been supporting agriculture in PNG for over 30 years and has collaborated with the Government of the past and present through direct and indirect partnerships over the years.