Utsiap landowners proudly showing their new vehicle to Jessie Mitir from PNG Biomass
The renewable energy project by PNG Biomass in the Markham Valley is already delivering real community benefits even before construction of the power plant has started.
Earlier this week landowners of Utsiap became the proud owners of a brand new 3-ton Isuzu truck purchased from their first land rental payment for the first 1,000 hectares of their land leased to PNG Biomass. Landowner Peter Sanga thanked PNG Biomass on behalf of his family of Utsiap, Mampim Village, Fampan clan.
Andrew Kising, Chairman of the landowner company Utsiap Holdings Limited, said “spending the first money was a hard decision but we discussed it with our families and decided purchasing the vehicle was a smart business investment.”
The vehicle will be contracted by Utsiap Holdings Limited to PNG Biomass for transportation of materials in the Utsiap plantation to create a good income stream for the landowner company.
Utsiap landowners are the first in the Markham Valley to have released over 1,000 hectares of their land since PNG Biomass went into commercial planting earlier this year. The Project is working closely with landowners to establish 16,000 hectares of plantation land with over 20 million trees in the Markham Valley as fuel supply for a 30 MW biomass power plant to energise the Ramu Grid.
PNG Biomass Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Jessie Mitir, commended the Utsiap landowners for putting their land rental benefits to good use by making an investment that will generate extra income.
Ms Mitir said that the Utsiap landowners’ smart investment is just one of the many benefits of the PNG Biomass project. “Many power projects in PNG are just ideas on paper, we are already operating, establishing our plantations, paying landowners, and creating real income streams and benefits for our local communities,” said Mitir.
“Our Project is built around the idea of inclusive rural economy growth. We aim to create tangible extra income for local households. We will generate K29.6 million every year in household incomes, for 25 years, which is K740 million over 25 years. This amount is a massive driver of local growth in the Markham Valley.”
“Besides household income, we also employ a lot of locals. At the moment, Our PNG Biomass project has 38 employees in our main company Markham Valley Biomass Limited, but we also use 64 employees through the local Zif Faring Business Group and we have over 173 daily local labour jobs on our plantations. So we already have created 275 actual jobs, even before we start power plant construction and further ramp up our plantation establishment. We are creating real ongoing jobs, and will have 500 people employed every day over 25 years, of which 95% are local jobs.”
“To further help our local communities we have a number of community development programs that focus on creating local business opportunities, enhancing local food security, providing financial literacy training, and using natural resources such as native stingless bees to create small business opportunities with a lot of potential to scale. Our gender equality approach ensures that we bring a lot of women into our development opportunities, which is working well. We have many local women benefiting from intercropping on our plantations, and a number of women’s groups receiving financial literacy training and part of our Switpela Bi Hani program.”