The long term objective of initiatives supported in the Local & Regional Economic Development sector is increased income earning and employment opportunities, and reliable subsistence consumption for Western Province communities. Key sub-sectors which OTDF supports and which contribute to the long term objective for sustainable livelihoods are: Forestry (Rubber and Eaglewood); and Agriculture (Rice).
Rubber and Eaglewood
There is a growing interest in the volume of non-timber forest products outside of Western Province and internationally. Forestry requires a longer-term timeframe, with substantial benefits in the future. Rubber has been grown for more than 50 years and processed for export in the Western Province by North Fly Rubber Ltd since 1994; Eaglewood is a relatively new high value product with the potential to earn export income.
OTDF has invested in nurseries to produce planting material for both Rubber and Eaglewood, employing experienced technical officers and field staff who are working with farmers in all eight CMCA Trust regions (Wai Tri, Tutuwe and Nupmo in the North Fly, Middle Fly, and Suki Fly Gogo, Dudi, Manawete and Kiwaba in the South Fly). In December 2016, OTDF purchased the exclusive patent license in Papua New Guinea for the Cultivated Agarwood (CA) Kit technology. CA is regarded as the most reliable method for inducing the production of resin or agar in Eaglewood trees. This technology is crucial in increasing the production rates of agar in the trees from around 7% to more than 95%. The technology also ensures growth of the agar over a 12-month period post inoculation, whereas in the natural environment this can take many years.
Rice was introduced into PNG almost one hundred years ago and is now cultivated as a smallholder crop in most provinces. However to meet consumer demand PNG imports most of its rice, and the country still lacks a well-established domestic rice industry due to a number of constraints, including: access to specialised scientific, technical and extension expertise; access to seed; cultivation tools and equipment; and rice milling facilities.
Model Villages as a Delivery Mechanism
Scaling up production to more commercial levels requires a critical mass of production capacity, training and skills development, access to markets (e.g. road, water, and air transport infrastructure), and networks to connect buyers with sellers. OTDF has already improved access through implementation of transport infrastructure projects funded by the WPPDTF, CMCA Trusts and the Tax Credit Scheme. To address production capacity, OTDF increased the number of Model Villages, and followed up with a Communication Patrol to introduce the concept of Livelihood Development Packages (LDP) and expansion of the Model Village concept. Further community engagement in 2017 will focus on preparation for implementation of WPPDTF-funded LDP’s in all eight Trust regions.
Women’s Economic Empowerment
Each of the Rubber, Eaglewood and Rice LDP present opportunities for women’s participation and economic empowerment. Business and direct employment opportunities have been identified within the value chain for each of these products, complementing women’s existing community roles. OTDF will continue to engage with local women’s groups to ensure that women’s concerns and needs are voiced and addressed.
Technical and Marketing Partnerships
In preparation for the LDP program, OTDF developed a concept paper for an alternate market model for Rubber with an Australian NGO, Business for Development (B4D) and an international business organisation, OLAM, starting with a re-activation of rubber farmers with long standing, mature trees in the North, Middle and South Fly Districts, and subsequently expanding to new farmers in Model Villages as their rubber trees mature. OTDF has also engaged Trukai Industries Ltd and Pacific Forest Alliance to develop similar models for Rice and Eaglewood; enabling expansion to commercial scale production through smallholder farmers focusing on SMEs as the business model, with complementary training and skills development programs.
Establishing a Baseline for LDP Program Monitoring and Evaluation
In 2016 OTDF Program Services Teams began collecting data (including spatial information using GPS) across the CMCA corridor to establish a permanent baseline database that provides accessible data on current farmers and their respective Rubber, Rice and Eaglewood blocks. In addition to Model Villages, data was also captured on interested individuals, women’s and youth groups, for inclusion in an SME database when phased implementation begins in 2017.