Aquaculture is an emerging industry in Simbu, with great potential to improve food security and expand livelihood opportunities, thanks to the abundant freshwater resources in the province, especially for freshwater fish species.
Australia Awards PNG alumna and Provincial Fisheries manager, Francisca Imbo and her team have been producing domestic fish food through Simbu AquaFeed and are also building a new Fisheries Resource Centre to help more farmers transition to this lucrative activity.
“Aquaculture is a sleeping giant that needs to be tapped into and developed, and it needs farmers and those interested in fish farming as an alternative income-generating activity to seriously do that,” she said, .
Francisca followed through her own words after graduating with a Master of Science in Aquaculture from Flinders University in South Australia in 2021. She now works with farmers across the province to incorporate aquaculture including training into their farming activities.
“The technical knowledge and skills required was fully obtained through my study in Australia and I am now geared up to disseminate and develop the aquaculture industry in terms of feed development, hatchery development, cool storage chain system and fish effluent management in fishponds. If fish farmers are serious and use that knowledge disseminated to them by fisheries officers, they would reap millions of kina out of fish farming,” she said.
Farmers in Simbu who have included fish farming in their activities have been able to earn enough income to build their own guesthouses and become wealthy in their communities.
Interest in small-scale fish farming across PNG is growing, with tens of thousands of farmers across PNG. However, opportunities for professional training in PNG are limited, and so is access to qualified, local advice, restricting potential growth for aquaculture.
“There are not many aquaculture professionals in the country, and such opportunity will not only help Simbu but other provinces to venture into aquaculture. Aquaculture at an advanced level is not offered in PNG institutions, and so an Australia Awards PNG scholarship gave me that opportunity to pursue an aquaculture qualification,” she added.
Francisca is proud of her achievements and positive about the opportunities ahead for PNG. She encourages other public officials to consider Australia Awards scholarships to study in Australia so they too can support development across PNG.
“Find an area of study that is important in your workspace but is not offered in PNG and apply and go for it. This will add value to your career and future endeavours,” she advises.
Applications for Intake 2024 Australia Awards Scholarships are now open. Public officials or employees at public institutions are encouraged to speak to their human resources manager to discuss their interest. Find out more on the Australia Awards PNG website [https://www.australiaawardspng.org/study-in-australia/public-service-applicants]. Register your interest at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AAS2024ew before 28 Feb 2023.