Warren Chapman, Tahira


Farming has been a family tradition for Warren Chapman, who manages a massive estate along the highway in Tahira. But it has largely been a self-educating process for Warren, in the absence of technical information and transfer of farming techniques.

“For me, it has been all about trial & error. During a few overseas trips, I observed techniques being used by farmers there. But a majority of our rural farmers are in complete darkness.”

Warren declares that the secret is in choosing the right seed variety. “From my own experience, seeds should be developed for lowlands, midlands and highlands. A lot of seeds available here are produced in Australia and New Zealand. However, weather-wise they don’t perform well in coastal regions. But in the Highlands, these seeds yield a big harvest.”

In addition to proper nutrient management, the third-generation farmer also uses the plastic mulching technique. It is a globally applied agricultural practice, and known for its instant economic benefits such as higher yields, earlier harvests, improved fruit quality and increased water-use efficiency.

“The plastic mulch prevents water from getting evaporated, maintaining soil moisture. It also suppresses growth of weeds by breaking the cycle of development in the soil. The technique can be used for any crop. These are the things we must learn, if we want to go commercial.”

Warren has been creating employment in the community by recruiting farm-hands locally. His advice to those getting into commercial level farming is simple – “It is critical to choose the right variety of seeds as per climatic area. Concentrate on 3 crops first or else you will be overwhelmed.”

To the government which is prioritizing the PNG agricultural sector, Warren simply says, “Let’s get basics right domestically before we talk about exports.”

The third-generation farmer grows capsicum, tomatoes, chilies, mangoes and watermelons; and is one of the biggest suppliers of fresh produce to retailers like Stop & Shop.

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