My “New Colombo Plan” Experience

Papua New Guinea- David Cram

I was lucky enough to travel to PNG on a government awarded New Colombo Plan (NCP) Mobility Grant. The Australian High Commission (AHC) in conjunction with the NCP aims to raise more awareness of Papua New Guinea through partnerships with universities. These partnerships with universities between Australia and Papua New Guinea offer Australian students short term programs such as the program I undertook as part of a group and full sessions of study within Papua New Guinea.

I felt privileged to have met the local people and for the opportunity to immerse myself in their culture. This experience was educational and eye opening. I encourage any student wishing to study overseas to look into the New Colombo Plan Grants offered. I found CSU Global to be extremely helpful with the whole process. You won’t regret it!

My Adventure

After arriving in Port Moresby in the early afternoon, our group visited the Australian High Commission (AHC). During this visit we learnt about the AHC’s role in strengthening partnerships between Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Our group visited one of the estates where palm oil is produced. During this visit we learnt about the processes required to grow, manage and harvest the palm kernels. Two men work side by side. One man cuts the branches and the palm oil bunches and lets them fall onto the ground. The other man moves the branches into piles which are left to dry.
A team of women then pick up all the loose fruit which comes of the bunch when it drops to the ground. The palm are then loaded onto a scissor lift tipper machine and loaded into a large container.

What I found most interesting about New Britain Palm Oil’s operations was their sustainable use of waste products. Crude palm oil production comes from the mesocarp part of the kernel. Inside the mesocarp is a hard shell, which when burns off in a boiler, leaves a substance called expella. The expella is then fed to the cattle at the Ramu Beef feedlot. The empty fruit bunches left from the initial separation of the palm kernels, are spread back onto the soil of the palm oil plantations. This is done to increase the level of organic matter which improves soil structure and moisture retention.

Our group received a tour of the cane fields and the sugarcane mill/factory. During our tour of the cane fields we learnt about the processes of planting, management harvesting the sugarcane. During our tour of the sugar mill/factory we learnt about the processes of obtaining the sugar crystals from the sugarcane and what the waste products such as molasses involved.

Harvest used to be done by hand but in recent times mechanisation has been introduced. Equipment such as sugarcane harvesters and tractors with trailers to collect from the harvesters and haul the sugarcane from the field to the factory. Harvest in the nurseries where new varieties are cultivated is still done by hand as the area to cover is much smaller and increased requirement of disease management.

Our group visited the Ramu beef feedlot where we learnt how the enterprise operates.

Later in the day during our travel back to Lae, our group received a tour of Trukai Rice and Trukai Farms. We learnt about the farming operations and challenges such as environment, breed, pests and diseases. We also looked at rice and soybean trails and Trukai Farms. Other produce at Trukai Farms are cattle, mungbeans and sorghum.

This photo was taken at the Mainland Holdings crocodile farm in Lae, Papua New Guinea

During our visit to the farm, our group learnt about the process of producing crocodiles for leather goods and meat. What I found most fascinating was the complexity in growing the crocodiles.

On arrival to munix village, we were welcomed by a prayer from the village pastor. We were then welcomed by traditional song and dance. To me, the differences between Australian culture and PNG culture are obvious as soon as you arrive. When you arrive to a town or village in Australia, you don’t get a prayer or welcome song and dance but are welcomed in other ways with family meeting you or just getting genuine service from local shops in the town. I thought it was a very warm welcome and you immediately felt embraced by the community of the village as soon as you arrived.

We then received a formal greeting by the village leaders and one of the students from the University of Technology (UNITECH) and then introduced ourselves as a group to the village which is something I’ve only experienced back in Australia at an event rather than just coming to visit a town. Munix was part of several small villages within the district they were in and were separated by the river passing through. Each village has their own church, pastor and other community leaders which is quite like what you see in Australian towns. We were then privileged to a tour of the village by a few of the locals. We got to see where they grew their cash and staple crops and where the cattle they raised also for source of income. The sustainable way of living off the available local resources was what stood out to me the most.

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