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By Zachery Per

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 18) - Rice farmers at Umi in the Markham district of Papua New Guinea’s Morobe province have found a new way to thresh rice – with bicycle wheels.

The farmers surprised agriculture officers from the Markham district and the provincial office when they took out bicycle wheels and began thrashing rice stalks yesterday.

Leading rice farmer in Markham, John Umant, initiated the use of bicycle wheels to thrash rice, separating the grains from the stems.

Excited rice growers yesterday helped Umant harvest his rice and thrash it by spinning the bicycle wheels. There were six bicycles at the farm yesterday.

Provincial DAL advisor Otto Giria commended the farmers, especially Umant, for growing rice on a larger scale. He exceeded the allocated 0.2 hectares and grew rice on three and half hectares of land.

He encouraged other farmers to learn from Umant and work together to get help from the government and Non-Government Organisations.

Markham District DAL officer Dakia Wokio encouraged other farmers to follow Umant’s example.

However Umant expressed grave concern that they had the land but lacked a tractor, rice mill and market opportunities.

"These are the only obstacles we face. We are eager to cultivate more rice in Markham," he said.

They urged the government to help them grow more rice.

There are only five rice mills for rice farmers in Markham district but not all have access to it.

April 19, 2005

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