Papua New Guinea

Ramu Agri-Industries Limited

From a greenfield site

Following an economic policy encouraging development of export crops and reducing dependence on imported foodstuffs, the Government of Papua New Guinea sought to develop a national sugar industry. In 1977, Booker Tate was commissioned to undertake a feasibility study to identify a site for a sugar estate and factory. With the successful outcome of the study Booker Tate was awarded a management contract in 1979 to design, implement and manage a sugar and livestock project located in the Upper Ramu Valley.

A factory, designed to produce 40 000 ts/y, was commissioned in 1982.

Distillery added

In 1982 Booker Tate undertook a feasibility study for a distillery to produce ethanol from molasses and cane juice to be used as an extender for motor fuel. The positive outcome of the study was followed by the supervision of the distillery construction with full production starting in 1984. As a result of falling oil prices, subsequent years saw the distillery modified to produce potable alcohol.

From sugar to oil palm

In 2004, Ramu decided to expand into oil palm on land that was unsuitable for sugarcane. The plan was to achieve 15 000 ha under oil palm.

In 2008, New Britain Palm Oil Ltd acquired 100% of Ramu shares to expand its overall oil palm operations in Papua New Guinea. As a result of this takeover, approximately 2 500 ha of sugarcane land was converted to oil palm.

Sugar production

Consistent sugar production over the years has been hampered by various unforeseen problems. In 1986, following three years during which production had increased to average 32 000 ts/y, a disastrous attack of a hitherto unknown disease, now named “Ramu Stunt”, reduced production to just          9 000 ts/y. Booker Tate formulated a successful replanting programme to counter the effects of the disease and 1988 saw a record production of           51 000 ts/y. Suffering a drought in 1993, the project was further affected by Sesamia borer in 1996, prompting aerial spraying with soft chemicals to control the infestation. Production now averages between 30 000 ts/y and
32 000 ts/y.

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In Brief

  • 1977 Feasibility study for new sugar project
  • 1979 Booker Tate awarded contract to develop and manage sugar project
  • 1982 Commissioning of 40 000 ts/y factory
  • 1984 Commissioning of 30 000 l/d distillery
  • 1986 Project affected by unknown disease
  • 1995 Extension of management contract to 2002
  • 1996 Project affected by Sesamia borer
  • 1996 Abattoir and meat processing plant constructed
  • 1999 First dividend paid to ordinary shareholders
  • 2000 Commercial trials of first PNG bred cane variety
  • 2002 Flotation on Port Moresby Stock Exchange
  • 2002 Booker Tate awarded Technical Support Services contract
  • 2007 Booker Tate awarded contract for agricultural management
  • 2008 Delisted from Port Moresby Stock Exchange following acquisition by New Britain Palm Oil Limited
  • 2009 Booker Tate awarded six and a half year contract for management of all sugar operations
  • 2016 Booker Tate contract renewed for further three and a half years
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