Growing rice in PNG for food security? Not a good idea.

Growing rice in PNG must not be encouraged as a  food security measure for PNG because the infertile tropical soil is not conducive for growing this crop over a long period of time.

Rice needs a lot of nitrogen to produce grain. Nitrogen, however, is in short supply in the tropical system.  Human intervention is therefore required for rice to maintain yield over a long period of time.

Nitrogen in the form of commercial fertilizer must be continuously added to the soil. Continuous fertilizer use is harmful to the environment because residual fertilizer in the environment is responsible for algae bloom in waterways. The alga competes with fresh water species (plants, fish, frog, shrimps etc) for the oxygen in that system. The alga eventually kills the system by removing all the available oxygen molecules.

The cost of running a large scale rice project that needs constant fertilizer intervention will be passed on to the consumer making it expensive for a villager to buy locally produced rice.

Furthermore, if the farmer opts not to use fertiliser, then the farmer will need to clear new forest land every few years because the rice plants would use all the available nitrogen. The farmer must clear new forested land to take advantage of existing nitrogen in the forest soil.

Clearing new forest lands is not good for the environment when rice cultivation has more negative impact on the soil than advantages.

For food security, PNG must focus on indigenous cultivars.

The downstream processing of our traditional staple food crops into forms that can be stored over time is a practical way to ensure food security through times of food shortages.

Turning sago, kaukau, banana, cassava into flour that can be stored. Freezing taro and cassava. Drying corn, peanut and beans and packing them in vacuum sealed bags are some practical ways of helping our people to help themselves in times of food shortagesImage.

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