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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 24) – The Papua New Guinea National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) [plans] to work with Malaysian sago investor, Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA) to develop the commercialisation of sago in PNG.

The first processing mill is to be established in Angoram, East Sepik Province next year.

NARI scientist Joe Waramboi said the institute will work with other partners to identify sago variety, germ plasm collection and starch quality analysis.

This process will involve key partners such as the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Lae University of Technology, University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), resource owners and local authorities.

Mr Waramboi said recent visits and consultations with stakeholders and LCDA representatives looked positive and NARI was keen to participate.

Mr Waramboi said NARI would maintain the germplasm on station and put in place a plantation-type research plot for agronomy and starch quality.

He said scientists were also willing to foster a joint research and development project with LCDA to address other issues to assist sago farmers and stakeholders in PNG.

The consultations included a trip with investors to Angoram and villages along the Sepik River. The visit was to collect information on resource availability, possible mill sites, resource owner mobilisation and collaborative arrangement with local authorities.

Mr Waramboi said issues NARI considers important included the collection and management of sago genetic resources, testing and selection of varieties suitable for processing, processing, preservation, value addition and product development, product evaluation, assessment and consumer acceptability. He also said that NARI will be looking at applied research on product packaging, storage and handling, complementary research in feed formulation and advanced processing, design, testing and fabrication of sago processing tools and equipment, market research and facilities studies; training, extension and technology transfer, industry and enterprise development, and evaluation and impact assessment.

LCDA general manager Abdullah Chek Sahamat said the Government of Malaysia was interested in research into sago germplasm, sago plantation management practice and resource inventory, which NARI is expected to contribute through collaborated research.

Field production and processing of sago would start in Sepik and then extend to Gulf Province and other parts of the country. Work is expected to start at the end of next year.

Initial investment is said to be about K40 million, however this figure may increase to K1 billion.

Much of the initial work, including the establishment of five mills, will be centered along the Sepik River.

The LCDA proposes to make a diverse range of products from sago which will include the use of the crops bark, pith and starch.

All food and industrial products including from sago will be processed locally.

LCDA has also proposed profit sharing with 30 per cent to go resource owner’s trust fund, 30 per cent to be paid as dividends to PNG government and 40 per cent to LCDA.

This project is expected to bring benefits to the government and the people. At present, sago is an under-utilised crop although it grows in almost all provinces except East New Britain.

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Hello...may I know, what is the current status of this project? Is the sago processing mill has been established? Since the announcement was made in 2007. I would like to know the benefit of this project. Thank you.

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