Farmers from Jiwaka Province and neighboring provinces have been selling their produce to the newly established buying point in Minj, Jiwaka for the last couple of months, as part of the preparation to the official opening of the buying point.
The strategic partnership between the leading agribusiness, Innovative Agro Industry Ltd. (IAI), and Jiwaka Provincial Government through the Jiwaka Development Corporation, has established the buying point in Minj, Jiwaka, to purchases the citrus fruits from Jiwaka’s citrus farmers, including lemons, lime, oranges and tangerines.
From the buying point the citrus fruits enter a cold chain and are delivered to the urban markets of Lae and Port Moresby, thereby creating market access to Jiwaka’s farmers and providing the urban consumers quality citrus at affordable prices, replacing the highly priced overseas imports.
The buying point is part of a large scale partnership that will include assisting the farmers with further inputs, extension services, technology and knowhow.
Margaret Deruage from Simbu, is the officer in charge at Minj Buying Point, says: “The buying point receives good feedback from the farmers, before the buying point started its operation accessing markets for their citrus was a an impossible challenge for most individual farmers, the few farmers that succeeded in selling their citrus had to deal with traders and other agents that brought and sold their produce to the markets but paid the farmers a very low price. other farmers that travelled with their produce to the markets had to endure a risk filled, costly and time consuming journey.”
“Furthermore, the established commercial buying point has rejuvenated and motivated the farmers to tend to their abandoned citrus trees so they can constantly bring in supply and benefit. This will sustain the farmers in the long run”.
“It is interesting to note that most farmers own individual orchard yards of around 500 to 1000 or more trees. In the past they typically operated within associations to help them access markets, today I see that the vast majority come to sell their citrus as individual farmers and very few show up as part of an association or other type of groups”
Margaret graduated from Vudal University and has been working with Innovative Agro-Industry since 2015. She started as Plant Protection Officer at 9 Mile Farm and moved to the highlands to work as an Extension Officer at the Sirunki farm in Enga.
She says the biggest challenge for the buying point team is getting good quality and quantity to meet market demand.
“The farmer receive a good price and assistance to ensure consistent flow of supply. We receive full support from the Jiwaka Development Cooperation Limited, linking the farmers to the new venture and providing awareness regarding the market and the benefits for farmers”.
The Jiwaka Produce is already available through the existing marketing channels that IAI has established in country like the 9 Mile Farm, and is expected to increase in volumes following the official opening this week.