Frost in PNG's Enga has destroyed vegetable gardens
Frost in Papua New Guinea's Enga has destroyed vegetable gardens depended on by hundreds of thousands of people.
Several days of severe frost in Enga Province in Papua New Guinea have destroyed the main food sources for hundreds of thousands of people.
The frosts hit in the highlands province earlier this month and followed two months of drought which is continuing to pose a threat.
The provincial administrator Dr Samson Amean says entire crops have gone.
He told Don Wiseman it will take up to a year for people to recover and in the meantime they need other food brought in to supplement what they do have.
SAMSON AMEAN: Our rural community is agricultural based, with the townships, not many people live in big townships, most are rural based so people depend on the gardens. Now all that is destroyed, completely destroyed, one of the districts is totally destroyed with a population of 72,000 people, another district which is heavily populated, there is a total of 90,000 people directly affected by the loss of food gardens. All in all, we've estimated it to be about over 200,000, and we're now working on the individuals who are also affected.
DON WISEMAN: How long would it take to get new vegetables in the ground and overcome the shortages?
SA: Nothing less than 12 months for sweet potatoes, which is a staple food. But it's a very difficult situation we're in now. Basically, because our people's staple food is sweet potato, and this is also affected by the high altitude, about 2,000m above.
DW: What is the provincial administration doing? What are you able to do for these people?
SA: We've conducted our emergency meeting, last week, and one yesterday and we're soliciting for funds immediately to provide food rations for the populations affected so basically the people will depend on store goods so we're looking at supplying families with rice, and wheat, and canned meat and fish to subsidise their meals.
DW: What sort of response are you getting, you're going to the national government?
SA: The governor for the province, is at the moment soliciting support at a national level. I've had communications with the chief secretary and we're working on getting support from the national government. And the national government has indicated it will assist with the problems but as to how much it is we'll have to wait till Thursday.
DW: There was a story in the Post Courier that people from a whole lot of villages were moving to other areas, is that actually happening?
SA: That's happens. That happens and from experience, we had a frost attack in 1972, people from affected areas moved to low altitudes and started bunking up with relatives in low villages but it will take them more than a year to recover and go back to their normal lifestyle and we don't know, with the kind of drought we're having we could have another attack.
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