PNG HAS POTENTIAL TO BE MAJOR FRUIT AND NUT PRODUCER, SAYS EXPERT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 17, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Papua New Guinea has great potential for a successful fruit and nut industry.

It has a favorable agro-climatic environment with well-distributed rainfall and sunshine, factors which contribute to production of banana, papaya (paw paw), citrus, rambutan, soursop, durian, mangosteen and many other fruits.

This is the view of an agriculturalist who presented a paper titled "The Economic Potential of Interventions to Reduce Post Harvest Losses of Tropical Fruits and Nuts in Papua New Guinea'' in Thailand recently.

Levi ToViliran, adviser to the agriculture division in East New Britain Province, presented the paper.

The paper was published in a book titled "Postharvest Handling of Tropical Fruits.''

Mr. ToViliran said recently that even though the paper was presented some years ago, the potential for this industry has not diminished. In fact, he said, it has become more apparent.

He was instrumental in inviting and creating a market for vanilla farmers in the province, whose produce now can be sold directly to the McCormick company in the United States.

In his paper, Mr. ToViliran said there was a distinct dry season for the production of mangos, grapes, cashew nuts, lychees, macadamia nuts, longans, custard apples, peaches, apples, nectarines and citrus.

"Other crops could be easily cultivated in PNG's tropical highlands close to 20 degrees latitude," the paper said.

"The current fruit production is limited (as a result of) the absence of infrastructure and services in the remote areas of PNG.

"Lack of fruit processing facilities compounds the problem."

He said, however, that PNG has potential to meet existing limitations in this area.

He said the country's only fruit processing plant, specializing in passion fruit, closed in the Highlands region in 1974 due to the increase in coffee production, which meant more people were planting coffee than passion fruit.

Mr. ToViliran said there are a number of reasons for trying to encourage fruit processing in PNG.

They include the short life and perishability of fresh tropical fruits, provision of an outlet for seasonal surpluses, fruit import substitution and associated employment opportunities, marketing help to growers through price stabilization and diversification of PNG's exports.

Mr. ToViliran said PNG is geographically suited for the production of most tropical and some temperate fruits because of its wide range of climatic conditions and soil types.

He said the fruit industry has not, however, developed to a recognizable level because production of most fruits is still based at the village level.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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