Producing for PNG
Trukai Industries Ltd has been building up a national rice industry for more than 50 years, its work centred around community and people
Project Manager: Josh Hyland
Really good food - a simple strapline but one that everybody can identify with.
As well as keeping us alive and healthy, food forms a focal point of social and family interaction, with few better feelings than providing relatives and friends with a tasty meal.
Papua New Guinea’s Trukai Industries Ltd is centred around this concept. The word Trukai originates from a saying in the local language - trupela kaikai - which translates to really good food.
Trukai began life as Ricegrowers – Australia Pty. Limited in 1970, and has played a central role in feeding Papua New Guineans ever since.
Back then, it exclusively dealt in the distribution of a single variety of white and brown rice, packed and delivered in polysac bags. In the half century since, Trukai has grown into the nation’s leading supplier of rice and is the only firm that manufacturers its products locally, serving as a true bedrock to the community.
This important PNG-centric milestone was reached in August 2019 when it launched Trukai Hamamas Rice.
It is 100 percent homegrown in the Rangiampum village in Umi, Morobe Province, grown from 275 hectares of rainfed crop in the Markham Valley before being milled and packaged at the firm’s main base in Lae.
Speaking at the time of the announcement, CEO Greg Worthington-Eyre said: “It took a lot of hard work and commitment by our hardworking staff and the support from the Chingwam Rice Growers Cooperative in Umi in the Markham Valley; we are proud of this achievement.
“Rice is a challenging crop to grow in PNG and it requires a lot of work, technical expertise and investment. Trukai has invested significantly in local rice development over the years and this milestone is a testament of our investment and commitment towards developing a local rice industry for PNG.”
Indeed, investing in local agriculture is the core of Trukai Industries, the company committing 200 million Papua New Guinean kina ($56.7 million) every year into industry infrastructure.
This includes its 220,000-tonne capacity rice mill and packing plant in Lae, 12 national supply centres which serve more than 80 wholesale and retail distributors, and 2,500-hectare cattle farm at Erap, as well as the Gabmatzum Rice Research Farm.
Considerable investment comes from majority shareholder SunRice, which is Australia and the Pacific region’s leading rice production, manufacturing and marketing company.
Crucially, Trukai Industries is one third owned by 40,000 Papua New Guinean shareholders, a structure which is facilitated through the Pacific Balanced Fund and underlines the organisation’s commitment to local people.
This is, undoubtedly, the hallmark of the enterprise.
Not only is it part-owned by thousands of Papuans, it employs more than 1,000 PNG citizens across its operations, jobs which in turn help to support the lives of many thousands more in family networks and livelihoods of those involved in the wider supply chain.
Beyond the core activities of the company, Trukai Industries also manages one of the most comprehensive corporate social responsibility programmes in Papua New Guinea.
“Establishing itself in the community, as an organisation actively engaged in promoting healthy living, it does this not just through its products, but also in its long term support and partnership of sports and local events,” Trukai states.
“Trukai is not just a ‘good corporate citizen’ but a leader in its industry, paving the way for other organisations to follow suit.”
Sport is a critical part of the company’s sustained CSR endeavours. Here, Trukai has a longstanding association with the Papua New Guinea Sports Federation and its development of athletes able to compete on the international stage.
Through significant cash and kit donations, Trukai’s support has been vital in helping the Federation to pay for preparation of athletes for prestigious events such as South Pacific Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games.
More specifically, the firm’s sponsorship has been directed towards weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding, fitting with the association of its rice products with healthy living and strength.
In the world of team sports, Trukai Industries is also a major supporter of rugby league, PNG’s national sport. Through a partnership with Australian club North Queensland Cowboys, it has contributed to many initiatives and events to raise the profile of the sport in the country, funding coaching, tournament hosting and opening up access to young people.
Indeed, supporting younger generations of Papua New Guineans is central to Trukai’s CSR strategy.
In late 2019, for example, it provided support to an outreach programme in Northern Province run by Youths With A Mission (YWAM). Specifically, Trukai donated 600 kilos of rice to YWAM’s medical ship for its Popendetta outreach - the ship is a vital means of accessing health services given PNG’s challenging terrain made up of rugged landscapes and river systems.
Last year saw three rice donations made by Trukai, resources which have helped the ship to see around 3,000 primary healthcare, optometry and dental patients in the Northern Province area.
MV YWAM PNG Ship Manager, Jeana Wiemeyer, commented: “On behalf of the whole team aboard YWAM’s medical and training ship, MV YWAM PNG, I would like to extend our wholehearted thanks to Trukai for the donation of rice for our upcoming outreaches.
“It is wonderful to see partners from all over PNG and the world work together to build healthy villages and a healthy Papua New Guinea. We are grateful for Trukai’s partnership and support.”
Moving forwards, by building up a truly local rice industry in PNG and investing in social upliftment programmes such as those with YWAM and the Papua New Guinea Sports Federation, Trukai looks set to continue contributing to the improving health of the nation.