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Rice is gaining prominence at meal times in Papua New Guinea. Though not a traditional food, many families are now making rice part of their staple diet. In 2003, almost 90% of the urban population of Papua New Guinea, and 25% of the rural population, were eating rice on a daily basis, and those numbers seem to be rising[1].

Papua New Guinea relies heavily on rice imports to meet the needs of its population, and here lies a great opportunity for impoverished farmers in the Baiyer Valley; working in partnership with the Baptist Union of Papua New Guinea, Banzaid is teaching local farmers how to grow rice as an extra source of food for their families and communities, and as a way of diversifying their cash crops and improving their economic situation.

In recent months we have established demonstration fields in the Baiyer Valley to show local farmers best practices for growing rice. Working with a rice specialist from the Christian Leaders Training College (CLTC), the demonstration fields were prepared, and rice nurseries were set up, so farmers could learn about effective rice planting methods.

We have been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm and interest shown by local farmers towards growing rice. Thanks to your support we will be able to supply 70 farmers with rice seeds for free, and in early November they will begin to sow their fields. From half a kilogram of seeds, a farmer should be able to produce 21 kilograms of milled rice – what a fantastic return!

In addition, your support is allowing us to provide a tractor and plough, and construct a milling shed, to help farmers prepare their fields and mill their rice. Come March next year, farmers will begin to harvest their rice. We will purchase their rice off them for onward sale, to ensure they get a good result for their hard work.

In addition to rice, we have planted 214 hybrid orange trees in the area, and will soon plant other varieties of citrus fruit. We have also set up a nursery for new coffee trees, which farmers will be able to buy off us to start to replace some of their trees that have passed their best production period (see pictures of seedlings below).

The coffee buying season is coming to an end. Since the season began in May we have traded around NZD $260,000 worth of parchment coffee. The local staff we have worked with have done well, and have gained valuable experience in buying and trading coffee. We had hoped to make a profit from our coffee trading but, for various reasons, it looks likely that we made a slight loss. Lessons have been learnt however, and we are optimistic that we will see great results next year.

Visit our Facebook page for more pictures of the project!

Thank you for your support for this project. Your support enables us to get funds from the New Zealand Aid Programme and from the Government of Papua New Guinea. Please tell others about this project, and encourage them to donate to support us. Donations can be made through our online Donations Page

[1] The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Nutrition Country Profile, 2003.

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