Challenges faced by potato, strawberry farmers

Logistical issues are limiting the amount of potatoes and strawberries grown and distributed within the country or exported overseas.

Surinki Farm Manager, Liran Tziberman, said this is one of the challenges faced by the Farm.

Since 2016, the Surinki Farm has gradually expanded its potato and strawberry farm.

While running independently, the Farm also provides training to local farmers who grow potatoes and strawberries which are then sold back to the farm.

For potatoes, the farm distributes about 60 tonnes of potato a week to the Pangia Potato Factory as well as to Port Moresby, which could take about two weeks.

“We pay K2 per kilo of potato, which is a very good price. The only condition to that is they (farmers) to have the best quality potato for many reason, to get the famers more professional, in order for us to maintain more potatoes, in order for us to process to the Pangia factory,” said Tziberman.

“We have here for example our garden, which is not only for my potatoes, it’s also providing education and external knowledge for local farmers that come into the farm. Here they can see our method of planting, how we plant the potatoes in distance, etc.”

The Farm manager also highlighted how trust has been a key ingredient in working alongside locals.

“With local farmers, a lot of the connection is built on trust. It’s hard to explain to them that for the long term we will stay, and in order for them to work with us they need to be open and patient, and in the long term they will see good results.”

Strawberries, on the other hand, are sent via plane, and before that they have to be transported three hours to Mt Hagen.

600 kilograms are sent weekly, though this is still not enough to meet demand.

“Other aspects are logistics, for example we have the strawberry garden and we need to send everything by air cargo, through Hagen airport. That means we have to transport them to Hagen, three hours’ drive, we’re also limited by air cargo, for the quantity we send. For example once we will have for example bigger planes, I will be able to have a bigger garden with more employees.

“Strawberry we export once we get new orders, there were a few orders in the first few months. We have premium best quality strawberry so I know we will continue,” he said.

Surinki Farm aims to increase internal distribution and overseas exports.

Cedric Patjole