The revival and restoration of rubber in the Murua area of Gulf Province are being discussed by the PNG Rubber Industry Board, Department of Agriculture and Livestock and the Gulf Provincial Government.
The stakeholders are also seeking the support of other potential players including the Galley Reach Holdings Ltd, which operates the Doa rubber plantation in Central Province, National Development Bank and landowners to work in partnership and support the redevelopment of rubber industry.
Gulf Governor, Chris Haiveta, is pushing for the restoration of rubber in the once-thriving rubber growing areas and his office has approached the PNG Rubber Board and DAL and other stakeholders to see what they could do to revive rubber. Initial investigations also revealed that there is potential for the redevelopment and expansion of rubber in the Epo and Murua areas.
Wilson Thompson, representing Chris Haiveta, has met with officials from PNGRB, DAL, NDB and Galley Reach Holdings Ltd, to discuss the issue and plan for a way forward.
He told a recent meeting that rubber activities including production and government extension, advisory and training activities ceased at Murua and Epo, and rubber production ceased in Gulf due to lack of buyers and support. Many rubber blocks are rundown and used for gardening and other crops. Also, the current tenants, especially children of original rubber growers, as well as government extension officers lack the knowledge and skills in tapping rubber and providing support services.
The meeting agreed that the Gulf administration to update the list of leaseholders and establish actual titleholders, the stakeholders to identify the main issues, a major survey and census and land identification for expansion and development to be conducted. The stakeholders agreed that progress should be made to ensure rubber is tapped again and then look at new developments because of the potential of the industry.
Plantations Manager with Galley Reach Holdings Ltd, Ambika Das, said his factory capacity was 600 cup lump rubber and at present running at 200 tonnes and can buy all and any rubber from Gulf and all over PNG. The company has improved its processing plant to process rubber to sell directly to tyre factories and opportunities exist for more production and expansion.
He pledged his company’s support towards reviving the rubber industry in Gulf and is willing to buy the rubber, provide tapping equipment, conduct training and provide other technical assistance.
PNGRB Chairperson Josephine Kenni said her board and DAL welcome the initiative by the Gulf Government and Administration and stand ready to support the industry in Gulf. She acknowledged that the people and farmers need more support and that must be provided by the relevant authorities. However, the provinces must take the lead in terms of committing financial resources and other support to commence the redevelopment.