27 June 2024

Leeton food giant subsidiary donates rice to Papua New Guinean village hit by deadly landslide

| Oliver Jacques
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PNG landslide op

Mulitaka District village leaders, Trukai Industries representatives and Highlands Regional Sales Manager Peter David shaking hands with Director Planning for the Enga Provincial Government Ben Sarett with members of the Natural Disaster Committee. Photo: Supplied.

A subsidiary of Australian food industry giant SunRice Group has donated five tonnes of rice to support the people of Mulitaka District in Papua New Guinea (PNG), which was devastated by a landslide that left more than 2000 people buried alive.

The landslide unexpectedly hit the Yambali village early one morning in May while people slept, sparking an international rescue mission to dig people out from under the ground.

PNG-based Trukai Industries, owned by SunRice Group, made its donation to the Enga Provincial Government Natural Disaster Committee, which was set up to provide support to villagers. The SunRice company is headquartered in Leeton.

READ ALSO ‘Competition is healthy’: NSW Government to end Riverina giant SunRice’s monopoly over rice exports

The donated rice will be distributed between two care centres in Mulitaka and Yambali, with logistical assistance from the Australian Defence Force, the PNG Defence Force and the United Nations.

John Bradford, Chair of Trukai Industries, said his company was committed to supporting local communities, especially in times of crisis.

“Trukai Industries has always been there for its people, especially during times like this where Papua New Guineans are impacted by natural disasters,” he said.

“This donation signifies our commitment to our people and demonstrates our support towards the Governor, Sir Peter Ipatas, Chairman and Provincial Administrator, Mr Sandis Tsaka, the Enga Natural Disaster Committee, and all the combined efforts of international donor agencies and disciplinary forces on the ground. We hope this donation brings some form of relief as people slowly rebuild their lives and come to terms with the loss of families and loved ones.”

Ben Sarett, Director of Planning for the Enga Provincial Government Natural Disaster Committee, accepted the donation on behalf of Governor Sir Peter Ipatas and the Enga Provincial Administration.

“I would like to thank Trukai Industries for this donation and we appreciate your support towards our people,” he said.

“The donation that you have given will be stored here in Wabag town then it will be sent to distribution centres. We have received local and international assistance from our partners as we continue to help the people who are suffering from this disaster.”

The landslide has affected an estimated 7800 people, leaving many traumatised and in need of assistance.

The Australian Government also provided $2.5 million worth of humanitarian assistance.

The SunRice group employs slightly more than 2000 people and its annual revenue exceeds $1 billion.

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For many years, the NSW Government had given SunRice a monopoly over the export of all rice produced across the state, under an arrangement known as “vesting”.

But in May 2024, NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty announced she will introduce a new bill that will end rice vesting for northern NSW from 1 September 2024 and for the rest of NSW from 1 July 2025.

This will give individual rice farmers the power to sell their product directly to overseas buyers and negotiate their own contracts.

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