ALONE | EmNausPNG
PORT MORESBY - A family meal in Papua New Guinea is
incomplete without rice. Indeed, rice has fast become a staple for
town residents in the four decades since independence.
Rice is referred to as marasin [medicine] and has the
same effect on some people. One can never go wrong presenting to
relatives back home a bag or packet of rice.
Rice is consumed by nearly half of the entire world population
and many countries, especially in Asia, are completely dependent on
rice as a staple food.
Rice is said to be the worlds food security, and in PNG there is
a rush for rice cultivation.
Indeed, a 10-year domestic rice development policy was approved
by the National Executive Council in 2005.
The policy aims to establish a sustainable domestic rice
industry that would enhance household food security and nutrition,
generate cash income for farmers, and reduce dependence on imported
The NEC decision stands even though peer-reviewed studies show
rice only makes up 9% of Papua New Guineans diet while local
staples make up 68% of the diet.
The government has engaged the Philippines, China, Taiwan and
Japan to teach Papua New Guineans to cultivate rice, which is now
grown in small scale projects in several provinces in PNG.
Hybrid rice has been introduced in the Ramu Valley in the
vicinity of the Chinese Ramu Nico Company by the Chinese
themselves. According to the miners, the rice is going to be food
security for the local people displaced by the mine.
The big question, however, is whether rice should be encouraged
as food security for PNG?
I wont deny that I enjoy rice ever so often, especially rice
from my grandmothers small rice plot. But, should PNG embrace rice
as a food security over our local staple cultivars (like taro,
bananas, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, sago and
Rice is fast to grow and easy to cook, however, in favouring
this faster growing species, we can neglect our local taro
and banana cultivars a legacy passed on from our
Through breeding over thousands of years, these traditional
cultivars are suited for this trop...