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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 27, 2000 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea is capable of growing sufficient locally produced grain to supply the domestic market, says Governor-General Sir Silas Atopare.

Speaking at the opening of the Kandep Wheat Mill in Enga Province, Sir Silas also congratulated the Government of the People’s Republic of China for funding the essential grain research that led to the encouraging development that now benefits the people of Kandep.

Sir Silas also praised the Enga Provincial Government for its initiative.

He said the wheat mill is the first ever to be built in the country and the project will go a long way towards serving the rural population of Enga and, hopefully in the long run, the rest of Papua New Guinea.

"This project only stands to prove that we do not have to rely on imported goods. We can grow and process our own food," he said.

In thanking the Chinese Government for its faith in PNG’s ability to grow its own grain to supply the local market, Sir Silas urged other provincial governments to consider undertaking initiatives like this.

"Ultimately, it is the people of those provinces and this country who will benefit," Sir Silas said.

"Not only will we be feeding our own people but we will have learned and acquired new skills in the process.

"Additionally, activities like this will also assist in reducing the number of people in rural areas drifting into towns and cities."

Under the PNG-China Technical Cooperation Agreement, an agricultural research station was set up in Kandep in 1997, to test a number of crops, including several species of wheat.

As a result of the successful testing, a wheat mill was built for local farmers.

The Kandep Agricultural Research Center project is one of the largest projects funded by the Chinese Government.

The project began in November 1997.

During the first phase of the project, seven categories of wheat, 52 species of rice and 41 types of vegetables were successfully tested.

Sir Silas said the outcome of the tests showed that the soil and climate here was especially suitable for growing spring wheat from South China.

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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