Tunnel construction at site 2 and 3 at Samagoes, North Fly, Western Province

Construction continues to progress well with completion of the seven grow-out tunnel structures at site #2 (0.5 Ha of vines capacity) and near completion of the single, large grow-out structure framing at site #3 (0.8 Ha of vines capacity). Civil works at site 3 have progressed beyond our expectations and this site will now accommodate all building infrastructure. All sites have consequently been re-surveyed and the final layout for the Vanilla Agro-Industrial Center will be prepared for approval at the WestAgro Holdings Board meeting in March.

The first three containers of building materials have arrived in Port Moresby, were cleared from customs, and are now being repacked for shipping to Kiunga. These include the site equipment workshop, staff management residence, and the processing facility. Final preparations are also being made for beginning the water (DeepCore Drilling) and power (Ok Tedi Power Ltd.) reticulation works from next month. All groundwork preparation for the smallholder demonstration plot at Samagos is complete and 100 shade trees have been planted. Positive discussions are continuing with PNGSDP as funding partners in the Fly Cocoa venture and an announcement is expected to be made in the coming months.

Following on from the exciting Research and Development (R&D) news reported in November 2021 that both vanilla trial sites are producing green beans, there have been many more racemes, flowers, and beans developing since. Additionally, there are regular reports from surrounding smallholder farmers that they also have successfully pollinated considerable numbers of flowers and now have several thousand green beans growing.

 

First Rice Plants Growing in Kaviananga

Upland  (padi) rice trial plots  being planted

Both upland and lowland (padi) rice trial plots have been planted with seven of the eight rice varieties that are being trialed (three from PNG, three from the Philippines, and one from Israel). These initial trials are in ‘untreated’ plots which will provide the experimental control for all successive trials. The ‘treated’ trial plots have also been prepared and had calcium applied to increase the soil pH conditions, and will be planted with all eight varieties in early March. These trials will also include fertiliser applications throughout the growing cycle.

At 14 days post sowing, the emergence counts for each variety in the ‘untreated’ plots were as follows: Trukai 12 (PNG) 2/27; NARI 1 (PNG) 25/27; NARI 15 (PNG) 19/27; SL8H (Philippines) 20/27; SL19H (Philippines) 7/27; SL20H (Philippines) 17/27; and NETAFIM 1 (Israel): 21/27. Noting that for each sample quadrant of 27 plants, the first number shows the respective emergent plants for each variety at that time.

The ‘Solar Powered Irrigation System’ (SPIS) which will be utilised for the third and final variety trials has arrived in Port Moresby along with all remaining capital equipment from Israel. The system is expected in Kaviananga in April.

OTDF Media