Bougainville strengthens food systems in response to COVID-19
by PNG Business News - February 17, 2022
Photo credit: ABG
Improved availability of disease- and pest-resistant crops, as well as nutritious crop types, is helping the ABG Department of Primary Industries boost its food systems.
Through the Pacific Regional Integrated Food and Nutrition Security Program to COVID-19 project, this initiative is being carried out in collaboration with the Pacific Community Land Resources Division.
Communities are working to save traditional food crops that are in danger of disappearing as part of the initiative. In the Central (Mabiri area), North (Tinputz region), and South (Tinputz area), food crops such as taro, sweet potato, banana, yam, capsicum, eggplant, and other traditional staple foods will be planted in established plots and newly created nurseries (Konga Siwai area).
The selected towns will be given seed supplies and building materials for the nurseries as a result of this assistance. In a coordinated manner including the appropriate department and non-governmental organizations, the gathered varieties will be protected and appraised before being distributed to the districts.
Kenneth Dovaro, Acting Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, said that securing finance for these initiatives was often difficult, and emphasized the importance of the partnerships and collaborations that made them feasible.
“We are so pleased as a department to have this support and partnership with SPC (PRISCO-19 project). This initiative and support will go a long way in making sure that enough food crop varieties with desirable nutritional values are conserved and distributed to most farmers in need of food in a timely manner,” he said.
In the north, atolls area, central and south of Bougainville, the initiative is expected to help over 50,000 farmers.
Amos Lepasa, the DPI's Area Manager for Central Bougainville, said the project has drawn attention to an area of work that is typically disregarded. The initiative has assisted in addressing a shortage of resources and knowledge on upgrading food supply systems.
‘’This is a huge initiative and assistance, which was never anticipated before, and we’re very grateful to SPC and the PRISCO-19 project,” said Lepasa.
“Our traditional food crops that were almost lost can now be conserved, multiplied and distributed to many people in our districts and communities.”
“We will also use the set-up in the years to come in doing some basic applied crop research work.”
This project has enabled people to maintain, save, and utilise their indigenous food crops, according to Petronila Tieng, a farmer from Siwai, South Bougainville. Simultaneously, they recognized the need for greater food types and variety in order to increase nutritional security.
“We are happy to be able to use other introduced crops through these projects. With this development, we will be gathering our local food crops and others (varieties) that will be trialled here. Some of the local food crops have been lost through the process of urbanisation and commercialisation,” said Ms Tieng.
The project, which is the first of its kind in Bougainville, promotes awareness about the need for a comprehensive program and comparable programs to help vulnerable communities cope with the effects of food insecurity.
Reference: Autonomous Bougainville Government (11 February 2022). “Bougainville strengthens food systems in response to COVID-19”.
PNG Business News - June 28, 2021
ABG receives K30 million from IRC
After the National Government authorized the transfer, the Autonomous Bougainville Government received K30 million in tax proceeds from the Internal Revenue Commission today. President Ishmael Toroama, members of his government, and the Bougainville Public Service received the award from IRC Commissioner-General Sam Koim. The K30 million comes from Bougainville firms' corporate income tax receipts, which is held in trust under the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Koim urged the Autonomous Bougainville Government to use the cash for projects that will boost Bougainville's budgetary self-sufficiency. According to Koim, financing the economy would enable Bougainville to fulfill one of the BPA's key pillars: fiscal self-reliance. He informed President Toroama that the Prime Minister had promised him that the money would not be under the National Government's authority. He went on to say that the money will be released at the ABG's discretion to finance its development goals, but that the funds should not be misused or squandered. President Toroama thanked the National Government and Prime Minister for releasing the monies to Bougainville as soon as possible. The K30 million would be utilized to subsidize economic operations on Bougainville in order to start generating money, according to the President. “It is time to work for the leaders, the public servants and the people of Bougainville to work together and support the ABG's economic development priorities,” President Toroama said. “With the Sharp Agreement in place we must work on building our capacity to support the drawdown of powers and functions as we prepare for independence,” President Toroama said. In the meantime, the ABG has failed to receive Custom Duties from PNG Customs, as required by the Bougainville Peace Agreement, as well as tax payments from Bougainville Copper Limited to the IRC, as ordered by a court. The duties have yet to be transferred to the Taxation Trust Account, which will subsequently be paid to the ABG by the PNG Customs Office. Reference: Autonomous Bougainville Government website (22 June 2021). “ABG receives K30 million from IRC”.
PNG Business News - October 18, 2021
ABG and ICCC signs agreement for drawdown of powers
Photo credit: The Autonomous Bougainville Government The Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding today in Buka, which now marks the beginning of the drawdown of full powers from the consumer watchdog to the ABG. The drawdown process falls under the SHARP Agreement signed by the Governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea in May this year. ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Patrick Nisira says this signing is a very significant occasion for Bougainville and marks the way forward for both governments to work together to protect consumer affairs in Bougainville. “Our consumers in Bougainville deserve the best – without consumers we won’t have any business,” he said. He said that this protection must cover pricing and also quality of goods and services offered by businesses in the region, among others. Minister Nisira expressed his support of this process, saying that going forward; his Department will work closely with the ICCC to ensure the MoU is implemented immediately and effectively. ICCC Commissioner Paul Ain said that this signing was an important activity for the ICCC. He explained that the ICCC was established as part of the reforms led by Late Sir Mekere Morauta when he was the Prime Minister, and is basically the bridge between consumers and businesses as well as the main regulator of the economic sector in PNG. “Our core functions are to regulate the prices, protect the consumers and deal with merges and acquisitions,” he explained. “Consumer protection is a very big role we have in trying to protect the consumers from what the business community does. At the same time we try to meet in the middle and protect the consumers and make sure that the businesses does the right thing,” Commissioner Ain said. While other provinces in PNG only receive the consumer protection functions from the ICCC, for Bougainville the MoU between both parties now paves way for all ICCC functions to be passed on to Bougainville over a period of time. Going forward, both parties will begin training of ABG officers for capacity building to ensure that ABG has the required skills and capacity in human resources to enforce and implement the ICCC powers and functions. Article courtesy of The Autonomous Bougainville Government
PNG Business News - November 01, 2021
Australia announces support package for improved electricity in Bougainville
Photo credit: Autonomous Bougainville Government Communities in Buka and Arawa will soon see improved access to stable, clean and sustainable electricity. This follows the announcement of upgrades to the PNG Power electricity grids in Buka and Arawa yesterday. Australian High Commissioner to PNG Jon Philp officially announced this support package yesterday in Buka, in the presence of ABG Minister for Technical Services, Dr Joseph Swuamaru, senior management of PNG Power Limited and the Bougainville administration. The electricity support package totaling K50million will be implemented over the next eighteen months, and will see the immediate hire of new generators for Buka and Arawa to ensure stable power is provided for consumers. “We will hire immediately in the next month or two months, new generators on a hire basis, for both Buka and Arawa to make sure you have the power you need now,” said High Commissioner Philp. “Once those are installed, we will buy new generators for both Buka and Arawa to make sure there is sufficient power, to make sure it's stable and it runs at all times,” he said. In addition to this, a feasibility study will be conducted to look at delivering long term solutions for the power needs in Bougainville. This will include further exploration into solar power. ABG Minister for Technical Services Hon. Joseph Swuamaru acknowledged the ongoing support and partnership of the Australian government. Minister Swuamaru highlighted that Bougainville continues to face significant challenges in its physical infrastructure, however Bougainville must ensure that it invests in developing its own resources to ensure that there is sustainability in donor-supported programs such as this for the energy sector. “We should invest in developing our capabilities so that we sustain this support. That means investing in human resources, that means improving management,” he said. Minister Swuamaru further explained that development of an Energy policy for Bougainville is currently underway and looks at technology-neutral options such as solar, hydro, wind, geothermal for the energy sector. He said that the Energy policy will promote a decentralized design of energy generation, transmission and distribution so that generation units can be set up right at the constituency and ward levels. Article courtesy of the Autonomous Bougainville Government
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PNG Business News - June 24, 2022
Creating decent income-earning opportunities for rural communities in Papua New Guinea under road maintenance programme
EU Funded UN Joint STREIT PNG Programme, as part of its mission to support efforts towards reducing rural poverty, is engaging local communities with a focus on struggling single parents as a support workforcefor maintenance of 18 selected farm-to-market roads in the Sepik region. Led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the creation of these employment opportunities in remote communities where there are limited income-generating activities because of lack of accessible roads to markets is a relief to many disadvantaged households. This month the ILO team visited some of these beneficiaries who are employed in the Road Maintenance Groups (RMGs) working on a 17.7km-long Walkasa Mai-Wanwan road and an 8km-long Yiminum-Wilbowe road in the Nuku District of Sandaun Province. For the beneficiaries, this is a lifetime opportunity for a regular and steady income to support their and their families' everyday needs, and one important concern for the struggling families is paying for their siblings' and kids' school fees and associate costs. Among the struggling families are some widows like Marathia, aged 59, from Yiminum Village, who works on the Yiminum-Wilbowe road. "My husband died, and we were really struggling because our families have their own problems to take care of. Now, I'm very happy with this job which I joined last year. It helps with school fees for my children," said Marathia. Marathia was left with five children to support, including one who is attending final year studies at a vocational training nearby. With the income as an RMG, she was able to pay PGK 500 school fee last year and early this year she paid PGK 250. She said the community is also happy to see her contribution in a job they usually see as for men only. For youths like Jena Suwa this employment opens a new window to their life. She was not able to complete her studies after year 10 in 2018. "I'm very happy today because I was doing nothing in the house. I will now save some money to prepare to go back to school to become a nurse," said Jena. Sony Apo is another youth who completed Grade 8 in 2015 and is looking forward to some money to upgrade. He dreams of becoming a carpenter to continue the legacy of his late 'big daddy'. "Big daddy was the only skilled man we had in the family, and now I'm ready to become a carpenter as well," he said. The main works that encompass the road routine maintenance aspect to be undertaken by the RMGs include pothole patching, vegetation clearing, drainage and general cleaning along the road in preparation for engagement of a contractor to perform specific maintenance on these farm-to-market access and feeder roads. Safety gears and road maintenance tools like boots, gloves, vests, safety helmets, spades, hoes, wheelbarrows were also among the tools and equipment provided and distributed by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme among the RMGs' members. During the visits, the Programme's Community Facilitator, Rachel Bowie also shared with the RMGs to demonstrate commitment in their work to take ownership in the routine maintenance of these roads because it will serve them, their families and their fellow community members. The mission also conducted a drone survey of a 14km-long Nanaha-Tau LLG access road in the Ambunti-Drekikier District, East Sepik Province. In consultation with Ward Members, locals, including youths and women, were also recruited to form RMGs to conduct routine maintenance for this road that will also service Drekikier Secondary. Under the Programme selection criteria, one RMG comprises six members that must have at least two females. The group must also have representation from youths, single parents whose partners have died or have deserted them and traditional owners of land the road passes through. The Programme, in partnership with MiBank, a local financial institution, is implementing cashless transactions and banking for rural farmers by opening bank accounts for these RMGs, and their payment is deposited directly at the end of every month. This arrangement encourages rural farmers to save and grow their earnings, which can be used to access small loan benefits. Under this rural agriculture development programme, 18 rural roads in the Sepik region totalling close to 300 km in length are being maintained or upgraded with the help of RMGs to support the market access initiative implemented by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme for rural and farming communities to boost agriculture production and agribusiness activities pertaining to three targeted cocoa, vanilla and fisheries agri-food value chains for an improved income and cash flow for the rural communities. The roads will also support other agricultural, business, social and community activities and facilities like schools, aid posts and health centres that are in dire need of better accessible roads. The EU-STREIT PNG Programme, being implemented as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as the leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. The Programme aims to help improve the lives of the people from East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, by focusing on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains while strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transport and energy infrastructure development.
PNG Business News - June 24, 2022
Santos welcomes new apprentices in higher-level program
Photo: Leon Buskens, Santos Country Chair PNG meeting the 25 new apprentices in Port Moresby before their departure to the Institut Teknologi Petroleum Petronas (INSTEP) in Malaysia. Joining Mr Buskens and the apprentices are members of the Santos Training and People & Culture Teams. Santos is helping to equip Papua New Guinea’s next generation of oil and gas technicians with international qualifications. Ten females are among 25 novices who have joined the Santos 2022 Apprenticeship Program following a rigorous selection process which will see them train at the Institut Teknologi Petroleum Petronas (INSTEP) in Malaysia – 900 applications were received for the 2022 Program. Upon completion of the technician training at INSTEP, the apprentices will earn a Pearson Business Education Technology Council Level 2 and Level 3 UK qualification. Santos Country Chair for PNG, Leon Buskens when welcoming the apprentices, said: “You have joined at an exciting time following the merger between Oil Search and Santos. As the inaugural batch under the merged entity, there are greater opportunities for you to advance in all aspects of your career both in PNG and abroad. I encourage you to do your best and importantly, maintain a positive attitude and uphold your values - this is what will take you far on this journey. “This is the beginning, but you should be proud of yourselves as we are of you for making it this far. Congratulations and welcome to Santos.” Joining Mr Buskens to address the new cohort were pioneering trainees Cornelius Soagai, Senior Government Affairs Manager and Lydia Warubi, Deputy Occupational Health & Safety Manager. Mr Soagai went on to become the first national Production Manager in the Operations and Maintenance Department while Ms Warubi made waves as the first national female process technician to work at the Central Processing Facility. Both leaders encouraged the apprentices to maximize on the career development opportunities available to them at Santos. Among the cohort was Judy Sasa who completed the Company’s pre-apprentice program at the Kumul Petroleum Academy (KPA) in 2020. Judy finished at the top of her class and attained an honourable achievement award. A grateful Judy thanked Santos for a further opportunity to broaden her knowledge in oil and gas production. “My dream is coming true as I have always wanted to work in this industry,” Ms Sasa said. The 25 apprentices along with the Santos training team departed PNG for Malaysia last weekend. Two permanent employees were also part of the travelling party to INSTEP where they will train to become dual Electrical & Instrumentation tradesmen. Article courtesy of Santos
PNG Business News - June 23, 2022
PM Marape says East Sepik can become ‘economic powerhouse’ of PNG
Photo: PM Marape addressing the crowd in Maprik Prime Minister Hon. James Marape says East Sepik has the potential to become the “economic powerhouse” of Papua New Guinea. He said in Maprik recently (June 22 2022) that because of this potential, and in memory of founding Prime Minister the late Sir Michael Somare, the next Government would be formed in East Sepik. Present with the Prime Minister were East Sepik Governor Hon. Allan Bird (National Alliance), Angoram MP Hon. Salio Waipo (National Alliance), Maprik MP and Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Hon. John Simon (Pangu) and Pangu candidate for Wosera-Gawi Ronald Asik. Sir Michael was instrumental in the formation of both Pangu and National Alliance “East Sepik has the potential to become the ‘economic powerhouse’ province of our country,” PM Marape said. “This is why I will bring Government formation to here: Firstly, in memory of Sir Michael, and secondly, in memory of Sir Pita Lus. “This will be the 11th Parliament, and the first Parliament without Sir Michael and Sir Pita being alive. “This will be symbolic that the nation is now being passed on to the next generation.” PM Marape said formation of the new Government in East Sepik would also inspire the new generation of leaders to hold on to the lofty ideals of the founding fathers like Sir Michael and Sir Pita. He said his Government, over the last three years, had passed major laws to fight corruption and promised the people of Papua New Guinea that some prominent leaders would be prosecuted after the elections. These include the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Whistle Blowers’ Act and Undisclosed Wealth Act. “What would be the point of Allan Bird and I growing the economy of the country when corruption is still prevalent?” PM Marape said. “We have managed to stifle corruption in the big way with passage of the three bills during the last term of Parliament. “Over the last three years, we have spent over K56 billion, which has grown the economy by K30 billion.” PM Marape said East Sepik’s economic powerhouse potential was in agriculture, through the vast Sepik Plains, and challenged the province to start growing rice on a large scale to reduce the huge K900 million rice import bill. “Over the next few years, and into the future, we want to grow our own rice for domestic consumption as well as export to Phillipines, Indonesia and the rest if the region,” he said. “Sir Michael, before his passing, said he had helped groom me up and asked me not to forget East Sepik into the future. “The way to achieve this is through economic independence. “I want every Papua New Guinean to have money in their pockets: Grow rice, grow cocoa, grow vanilla, look after cattle, bring in tourists, stop consumption of home brew, stop marijuana and other bad habits. “We are ready to take the country to the next level. “I want East Sepik to be an economic powerhouse no longer dependent on Waigani. “This is why I ask the people of East Sepik to send Allan Bird, John Simon, Salio Waipo and my Wosera-Gawi candidate Ronald Asik, Ambunti-Dreikikier candidate Richard Rafa and Wewak candidate Jim Simitab to Parliament. “ Article courtesy of PM JAMES MARAPE News Page