CHIMBU province is geographically isolated in social and economical development due to its positioning.
The land is mostly unfertile and filled with rocks.
Coffee seems to be the only crop that generates income for the Chimbu populace with kaukau (sweet potato) being the main staple food.
English potato is a crop that has attracted the attention of some Chimbus.
Harvested potatoes ready for market
People around PNG’s highest mountain, Mt Wilhelm, and the surrounding Gembogl area grow good potato and other vegetables.
The soil is fertile and ideal for these vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower.
Other places like Kerowagi and Kup to the east; Gumine, Sol Nomane and Kilau to the south; Sinasina to north east; and Chuave to the west and sharing border with Eastern Highlands, are other areas where potato and other greens grow well.
When Wally and Barbra Yegiora saw huge potatoes in their backyard at Irmil village near Koge, Kamtai district, they could not believe their eyes.
|Wally Yegiora (centre) with his tribesmen displaying potatoes that were harvested at Irmil village, Chimbu province|
They bought those seedlings from National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) at Tambul in Western Highlands province.
They also collected information and advice from potato technicians.
From this, they were able to gather 20 bags weighing 50kg each.
It was beyond all expectation and they were overwhelmed.
They are planning to extend their backyard to plant more seedlings and supplement their livelihood.
“It’s a new find for us,” said Wally Yegiora.
“We have been living with coffee alone all these years and we are trying to venture into new crops to supplement our living.
Harvested potatoes of Irmil village