The Sepik Chicken, Grain & Cocoa Innovation Project in the Sepik Plains, Yangoru Saussia District is on target to deliver over six of its core missions of:
- Producing good quality chicken products at cheaper affordable prices;
- Improving the nutrition and well-being of our people;
- Increase in cocoa production, downstream processing and better quality and prices for farmers;
- Providing income-generation opportunities for rural communities;
- Creating long-term job opportunities for the local people; and
- Delivering improved livings standards for the people because of essential infrastructure developments that the Project will bring like better roads and electricity for the first time since Independence for the impact communities.
Background for the Project
Partners in the project are the National Government through Kumul Agriculture Ltd (40%), landowners (5%), East Sepik Provincial Government (2.5%), Yangoru Saussia DDA (2.5%) and Innovative Agro Industries (50%). The project is located in the Sepik Special Economic Zone at Huaripmo in East Yangoru LLG on 9,500 hactres of State Land. It has taken the us over 5 years to finally come to this stage.
Good Quality Chicken Products
The poultry project will use the latest technology to produce chicken meat as well as eggs for the East and West Sepik markets. The first product chicken, is expected on the shelves from January 2020 from the farm, and supplemented by production by farmers through the out-grower program.
The chicken will be sold live, chilled and frozen to meet the needs of all types of consumers. Whether its institutions who want the chicken frozen or mothers in the village who don’t have access to electricity to refrigerate, be assured the farm will meet your needs.
The chicken and eggs will be an affordable source of protein for everyone because we will produce our own stock feed. Currently, chicken prices are high because we import the feed from overseas and 50 percent of the cost structure is feed. This means up to 50% of what we pay for chicken goes overseas. Our project will stop this vicious cycle of importing feed and stop the transfer of Papua New Guinea’s wealth overseas.
To be economically independent, we must produce our own food and replace reliance on imports and keep our money in the country. There’s no reason why we should continue to import stockfeed. Corn and sorghum are native to many regions of PNG, including the Sepik. We will commercially grow these crops and process them into stock feed. This is crucial for the industry as it will ensure self-sufficiency and economic competitiveness.
The name competition for the chicken and eggs brand name and logo has been launched on 11 October 2019 and will run for one month. Schools and students from Grade 1 to 12 who are resident in the two (2) Sepik Provinces are encouraged to participate.
Improved Nutrition for Better Health, Social and Economic Outcomes
Access to good nutritious food is the cornerstone for a healthy, happy, smart and productive society. The problem of malnutrition and under-nutrition continues to be a significant impediment in the health, social and sustainable economic development of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
A 2015-2016 research by Save the Children and Frontier Economics has referred malnutrition as an ‘epidemic’, a ‘silent emergency’, ‘alarming’ and a ‘nutritional crisis’. PNG has some of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world and the fourth highest stunting rate for children in the world. Child under-nutrition has cost the PNG economy up to US$1.5 Billion in a single year, representing 8.45% of PNG’s Gross Domestic Product.
According to National Department of Health (NDoH) statistics over 50% of children under 5 years of age are stunted, which limits not only the child’s growth outcomes but also their future learning and income earning potential, and perpetuates the inter-generational cycle of malnutrition and poverty.
Since independence, PNG has made very little progress in addressing the nutritional epidemic, particularly in rural areas where 87% of our people live. Household food insecurity resulting in inadequate dietary intake, susceptibility to diseases and the multiple social determinants of malnutrition has cost our health, education and our economy.
Chicken and eggs are priority because of the statistics in PNG of this plaque of under-nutrition that is impacting our next generation. We can give children all the education in the world, but if they don’t get proper nutrients, they will not process whatever you teach them. You need first of all proper nutrition. The lack in PNG is caused by a lack of protein, lack of nutrition – chicken, milk, fish, and eggs.
As the mandated leader of the Yangoru Saussia people, I have a duty to ensure that malnutrition does not rob my people and their children’s future. The Sepik Chicken, Grain and Cocoa Innovation Project is a deliberate intervention to create jobs and income and nutritional food to improve the nutritional status of our people.
Increase in Cocoa Production, Downstream Processing and Better Quality and Prices for Farmers
The project will also trial 10 hectares of cocoa using drip feed technology, which we expect to increase cocoa yield by 300%. The cocoa seedlings will be supplied by the Regional Cocoa Nursery which is also in the SSEZ at Huaripmo.
The project will take cocoa grown in the district and province and add value through the drying process, to get better prices and to improve quality of the cocoa. The problem today is quality issues due to smoke induced cocoa beans. The drying methods are not compatible with modern industry standards. Introducing new trying technology will be a win-win situation for the farmers and everyone as well as improving the reputation for cocoa coming out of Sepik.
The improved quality will lead to downstream processing and eventually the setup of a chocolate factory in the District. Our overarching goal is to motivate the farmers through good prices to become better farmers, persistent consistent farmers for sustainability. Thus, margin and better price for farmers matters. Price is king! Price motivates and that is our ultimate aim for our farmers in Yangoru Saussia District so we remain the number one cocoa producing District in PNG.
Income-Generation Activities for Rural Communities
Implementing our SME policy sector targets is a key pillar of the project as we seek to encourage many SME commercial farmers in the District from chicken out-grower to large scale corn farming and commercial food farmers. The Out-grower Program & Farmer Training Centre will be established, which will train and equip farmers to:
- Produce chicken to sell to the farm. 50% of the farm’s requirement will come from smallholder farmers;
- Engage in local farming of corn and sorghum to sell to the feed mill to produce chicken stock feed; and
- The Yangoru-Saussia DDA will purchase cocoa planting materials from the Regional Cocoa Nursery and supply to farmers in the District so they can plant more CPB-resistant cocoa. They will have a market for better quality and prices.
I encourage YS people working and living in towns and cities to help your families back at home to start their SMEs as we already have the market in our own District. I encourage you to share your prosperity so we have many SMEs business owners and profitable farmers in the District. This is part of our integral strategy to transform our District into a Happy Healthy Wealthy and Prosperous District by 2030.
Create Long-Term Job Opportunities for Local People
The project is expected to create 400 – 500 permanent jobs for the local people, as well as the East Sepik Province. Currently, there is only one (1) expatriate supervisor and all locals constructing the chicken project.
Delivering Improved Living Standards
The Sepik Chicken, Grain and Cocoa Innovation Project is transformational. It is a strategic intervention to improve the living standards of our rural people. So far, communities in the plains who faced considerable hardships now have better roads, electricity, employment, and income-generation opportunity right in their villages. This is expected to improve further once the project comes into production.
My people of Yangoru Saussia District are “hatwok man/meri”. I am convinced that economically empowering them will have multiple effects in other areas like health, education and improved standard of living.
The project is part of my SMART strategy – the Sustainable Modernization of Agriculture for Rural Transformation. These are first small steps and only the beginning.