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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 30, 1997 - PACNEWS)--- Market prices of some fresh produce in the Papua New Guinea Eastern Highlands provincial capital of Goroka have tripled, as the drought continues its grip on the region.

A small bunch of carrots now costs around K1.50 ($US1.00), while a small amount of broccoli or an average-sized cabbage costs 2 kina ($US1.36).

Tomatoes and capsicum (peppers) are still reasonably priced, The National newspaper reports.

According to a statement from the Fresh Produce Development Company (FPDC), people are able to continue to water their gardens in some areas. However, many farmers appear to have given up maintaining their plots and are waiting for government assistance to be made available. For the most part, they are surviving on such crops as cassava and cooking bananas.

The FPDC says that in some areas in the Eastern Highlands, it is possible for the cassava crop to last until Christmas, while in other places food from gardens may be gone within two months.

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