A medicinal plant and other crops provide a new income for the people of Baining

A variety of moringa (herb) products including body oil and pain relief capsules are being produced in East New Britain’s Baining Mountains. ©Nick, Turner/UNDP

East New Britain, August, 2017 - When you live on a remote island in the Pacific, trying to make a living from gardening or subsistence farming is a daily struggle.

Until recently, the Arabam, Raigel and Maranagi (ARM) people along the Baining mountain of East New Britain in Papua New Guinea depended on subsistence farming for survival and couldn’t afford to transport their garden products to sell at market due to the bad road conditions and lack of access to vehicles.

Now, thanks to a United Nations Developments Programme (UNDP) funded project, Community-based Forest and Coastal Conservation and Resource Management in PNG, the Baining people can earn an income by producing and selling cash-crops in their own villages to raise income for their families.

The support came from UNDP's Global Environment Fund (GEF) and the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA partnering with Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA) through the ARM Natural Rainforest Conservation Project.

The project primarily aims to protect the watershed of the Warangoi river and conserve the unique singing wild dogs found in the Baining mountains. To promote conservation, the OISCA-ARM project supports cash crop farming, where families are given opportunity to grow and sell moringa products, peanuts, cabbage, cocoa and rice in the villages around Baining and Kokopo market in East New Britain.  

Delivered by OISCA, an international non-profit organisation from Japan, is working along with the Baining people focusing on community and human resource development. With the OISCA- ARM Natural Rainforest Conservation Project, people are able to cultivate their own rice farms, cocoa plantations and grow peanuts and moringa.

“We are starting to see some big things happen as a result of UNDP’s involvement," says Raymon Joshua, Project Coordinator for OISCA-ARM Natural Rainforest Conservation Project.

Over one ton of rice is milled monthly and sold for 4PGK for a kilo within the community of over 500 people. Cocoa and moringa cuttings are distributed to each family unit within the community around Arabam, Raigel and Maranagi.

Mr Joshua said the project works with growers from the farm to the market to ensure they can produce a product, sell it and make money.

“We are not just introducing and then leaving it to them to find markets. We are actually introducing and working on the product until we get the final product out in the market."

In addition to peanuts, cocoa and rice, the newly introduced medicine plant 'moringa', also known as the drumstick tree is being produced. It has small, rounded leaves which are packed with an incredible amount of nutrition. Also known as the miracle tree, it originates from India, Pakistan, and Nepal that has been used for generations in eastern countries to treat and help ward off diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, anemia, arthritis, liver disease, and respiratory, skin, and digestive disorders.

Its introduction in the Baining has seen a range of products from soap to oil, power, and capsules. It is in high demand in East New Britain and is now gaining popularity in the markets in the nation's major cities.

“So with the sustainable livelihood programs, as you can see with the Moringa plant we actually introduce into Rabaul, East New Britain Province and then we actually got it to the local market in Port Moresby and Lae," said Mr Raymond.

Since the introduction of the project, Mr Joshua said more interest has been shown in taking crops to new markets by men, youth, women, children and people with disabilities.

“The people are coming to realise the benefits of the OISCA-ARM natural rainforest conservation project through the crops they have planted,” said Mr Joshua.

More information on this project can be found at: http://www.oisca-international.org/programs/environmental-conservation-program/papua-new-guinea/sustainable-forest-management-project-in-papua-new-guinea/

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