By Tereni Kens in Port Moresby
Pacific Magazine > Daily News Monday: November 17, 2008
The multi-million dollar cassava bio-diesel project in Papua New Guinea’s Rigo district, Central Province is expected to export its first harvest of cassava to overseas countries from its project site at Launakalana.
South Korean project developer Changhae Tapioka (PNG) Limited made the first harvest today. The project was launched early this year by PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare.
The project sits on 20,000 hectares of land of which 5,000 hectares is being planted and further 15,000 hectares is yet to be developed as per the Memorandum of Agreement signed between the government and the company.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Lim said the harvest was a milestone for the company and the government as it will pave way for more development and employment opportunities for the local people. Lim told government officials that attended the harvest ceremony that the mobilization of local farmers and formation of cooperatives was an important aspect of the nucleus estate that the project aimed to establish.
“This is a small beginning for us and we hope it will provide a launch pad for our rapid progress in the future,” he said. “The 20 hectares to be harvested will give us enough stems to plant a further 500 hectares by using the technique of micro-propagation.”
He said the technique of micro-propagation would also help in a trial run of all logistics and processing required for exporting the cassava from Papua New Guinea to South Korea and other countries.
PNG Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) Deputy Secretary for Corporate Services Vele Kagena said cassava was an annual crop where benefits were gained relatively quickly and could benefit the people if utilized in the right way. Kagena said DAL had started cassava projects in Central, New Ireland and East Sepik provinces.
The Changhae Tapioka (PNG) Limited is a subsidiary of Changhae International group of companies. Pacific Magazine understands the company is currently developing a major ethanol plant at the plantation site, which will stand as a catalyst for downstream processing.
Lim said some of the by-products that would be derived from the cassava project include alcohol, ethanol, dried yeast, bakery products, icing sugar and bio-fuels (diesel, petrol, kerosene, etc).