AGRICULTURE HAS HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
by Paul Oeka - September 29, 2022
Photo credit: Oxford Business Group
The creation of the new ministries by the current government for both major agricultural commodities, Coffee and Oil Palm is a huge step forward in achieving the agriculture sectors economic potential.
For the past years the agricultural sector had not been fully utilized by consecutive governments as the focus had mostly been centered on the extractive industry and Mining & Petroleum sector. This important and vital sector is eventually and currently being recognized as an economic pillar to boost the state coffers.
Prime Minister Hon. James Marape said the allocation and restructure of the four newly created ministries concentrating on Horticulture (Fresh produce), Coffee, Oil Palm, and Livestock to the agricultural sector is a complete paradigm shift to get agriculture moving again.
The focus of the Marape Government on ‘Taking Back PNG’ is deeply rooted and aligned with the mechanisms and functions of the agricultural sector as most of the country’s population are situated in rural settings and largely depend on subsistence agriculture to sustain themselves.
Coffee, Cocoa, Oil palm and Fresh produce have been a mainstay that this rural population rely on for income for so many years. As far as many Papua new Guineans can recall and relate, Agriculture has always been the foundation and backbone of the country and it can surely drive the economy forward.
Although the agricultural does not match in monetary turnovers for the country, it is an economic foundation and is here to stay. In comparison over monetary benefits with other sectors, Agriculture had not been performing to expectation due to so many underlying issues concerned and faced with the value chain of agricultural commodities prompting a decline in agricultural activities over the years.
The Prime Minister said it was no secret that agriculture had declined since independence in 1975, and the current allocation of the four agricultural ministries was to revive the sector for it to be a major income generator for PNG. PM Marape said this when explaining the concept and rationale for his allocation of four ministries to the agricultural sector.
This direction by the Marape/Rosso Government to emphasize more on agriculture will boost agricultural activities in and around the country. Mostly the sector had not been given proper recognition for decades and had been lacking government intervention from past successive governments.
Now with the current Government’s backing, the respective agricultural ministries and its industries are expected to flourish dramatically and are likely to bring more benefits. The new ministries will also empower provinces that currently do not have mining and petroleum resources. This will certainly build stronger local economic activities for future generations.
“We want to see import replacement and more exports within the agriculture sector, which is why we have allocated four separate ministries to agriculture,” PM Marape said.
The recognition of this agricultural industries will also ease and slowdown rural-urban drift. The number of people migrating from rural areas into towns and cities in search for better opportunities have risen in the past couple of years due to inequality in the distribution of wealth and lack of government services. Thus, the governments focus on agriculture will encourage many unemployed Papua New Guineans living in urban areas to go back to their home Provinces or villages and be self-reliant.
As economic opportunities arise in rural areas from vibrant and innovative policy interventions within these newly created agricultural ministries, it will attract many to contribute meaningfully and be productive on their own customary land.
Prime Minister Marape said over the last three years prior to the creation of the new agricultural ministries, his government has given millions of kina to support agriculture through price and freight subsidies and SME support.
“We are now targeting specific commodities through the establishment of the four ministries. Over the next term of government, we will give specific production targets for Coffee, Oil Palm and all other major agricultural Commodities” he said.
The government also plans to revive and rehabilitate once thriving agricultural hubs in the country such as Cattle farming in the Central Province and the Coffee plantations of the Highlands region that produced quality organic Coffee and grew the fledgling industry pre-independence in the 1960’s.
Now that the agricultural sector has been categorized into four industries, there will be room for much improvement in economic activity within the agricultural sector as people will start contributing meaningfully to the economy.
PNG Business News - February 04, 2021
Coffee Needs to be Marketed Better to International Consumers
During the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus (Phama Plus) and the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), it is emphasized that marketing needs more attention in the exportation of coffee to the international market.While Rachael McCarthy of the New Zealand High Commission is happy to support the PNG coffee farmers, Joshua Kaile of the Australia department of foreign affairs said that they recognise the significance of agriculture in the coffee industry. CIC general manager Steven Tumae looked at the need for more exposure. “The MoU is a partnership agreement between Phama and ourselves (CIC),” he said. “It’s basically to do with Phama Plus helping us with the marketing of coffee overseas. We’ve been putting a lot of money into the coffee industry but there has not been enough help. We are hoping that Phama can train people in the industry. We’ve also asked them to help set up quality control grading labs in certain areas throughout the country.”Pharma Plus gives targeted assistance for Pacific Island countries to work on their regulatory aspects linked with primary and value-added products. This involves accessing products into new markets.
PNG Business News - January 29, 2021
Extension Services Must be put in Place, Says Agriculture Minister
To support local farmers to encourage them to take part in cash cropping, extension services in agriculture into rural areas must take place.This was according to the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) Minister John Simon who said that the country needs 400 agriculture extension officers.“Many farmers are trying their best to sustain their farms and to keep them going but they are faced with mounting challenges from pests to field management, harvesting and treatment,” he said. “When these farmers struggle alone without expert advice, they will give up and move on to something else. This affects production that we have over the years with cocoa and coffee as well as others.”Simon said that this was part of boosting the economy. He added that he had already encouraged Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) and Cocoa Board to invest more in extension service work. “Go out to farmers in the rural areas and establish why they have abandoned coffee and cocoa plantations so that you can see the real problems and solve them,” Simon said, saying that the Board needs to be more effective.“Get more extension officers out to districts and local level government areas where the farmers are and help them so that more is produced to supply the markets overseas.”Simon said that in the last two decades, work for the extension officers gradually diminished.
PNG Business News - February 10, 2021
Marape: Commodity Cost Support Programme Will Support Coffee Market Costs
In a recent visit to Jiwaka, Prime Minister James Marape said that the commodity cost support programme will support the current coffee market costs.Following the initial K50mil allocated last November, Marape said that the programme will receive K200 million each year. Through the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), the government has already allotted K10 million. Marape said, “This funding will support the current market price to be fixed at K6 per kg for Arabica coffee, K5.50 for Robusta coffee and K2 for Cherry coffee.Meanwhile, Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon said the CIC is going to work with five registered coffee dealers in Jiwaka who pay the price of cherry at K2 per kg and coffee at K6 per kg. CIC acting chief executive officer Charles Dambui expressed his gratitude to the Government for the price support. “In the past, price support was executed at the free onboard price (green bean price) where only exporters benefitted,” he said. “We are now changing the approach.”He added that the implementation phase was very important in the success of the programme and in looking after its sustainability.
PNG Business News - November 28, 2022
Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry holds 67th Annual General Meeting
The Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry (POM CCI) held its 67th Annual General Meeting at the Lamana Hotel on the 24th of November 2022 , present to witness the occasion were its members, executives and various stakeholders. The meeting was officially opened by the President and Master of Ceremony Mr. Rio Fiocco who gave his opening remarks and report. He thanked all the POM CCI staff for their hard work this year despite the challenges faced by covid and other changes in the administration. Some of their achievements highlighted included the recruitment of two graduate accountants from the IBS University and the employment of its new membership officer. Mr. Rio Fiocco stated that by 2023 the chamber will be working with Total PNG to pre-qualify its members to be contracted to early works stage of the Papua LNG project . "All members who have issues affecting their business can feel free to come and see us so we can lobby for you through NCD or if it government related we will also lobby for you through the PNG Chamber of Commerce and Industry", said Mr. Rio Fiocco. The treasurer of POM CCI Ms. Akae Beach presented the chambers Financial Report stating that it had made a net surplus of k114,020 which is a 12% net profit margin despite not recouping most of its membership fees. "The Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc is in good financial position and our net asset stand at K1.49m compared with K1.38m last year , a healthy increase of 8 %. Whilst conditions remain challenging , I am confident that the chamber will continue to be in overall surplus in 2022 as we continue maintaining our current strategy ( with an increase focus on both the Corporate and SME sectors) whilst continuous improvement in our financial systems, increase online and physical marketing efforts and increase member initiatives" stated Ms. Akea Beach. Ms. Akae Beach concluded that she will be leaving the chamber by the end of the year but will still support the chamber within her own capacity.
PNG Business News - November 27, 2022
PM Marape, Ministers and star international business speakers headline PNG Mining & Petroleum Conference in Sydney
Prime Minister Marape headlines a star line-up of speakers at the 16th PNG Mining and Petroleum Conference, in Sydney in December, to promote international investment in PNG. Already over 1000 attendees are registered to attend, as the Conference features a dynamic and engaging program centered around Prime Minister Marape’s announcement of 4 new mega projects and the expected re-opening of Porgera gold mine. Prime Minister Marape will be providing the keynote opening address on Day 1. He will be joined by Australian International Development Minister Pat Conroy. Senior executives of the major international investors in PNG, including Newcrest CEO Sandeep Biswas, Harmony Gold CFO Ms Boipelo Lekubo, TotalEnergies Senior Vice President Mr Julien Pouget, Santos President Upstream Mr Brett Darlie and ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Mr Peter Larden will be providing a global outlook for their companies’ operations around the world, how they have adapted to emerging trends and how their PNG investments fit into their global portfolios. A highlight will be CEO of Fortescue Future Industries Dr Mark Hutchinson’s presentation of Fortescue’s vision for how green hydrogen can be a gamechanger for the world and PNG’s envisaged role supplying hydrogen to the world. Day 1 concludes with a session featuring former Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, the respected Julie Bishop, presenting her view as to why Australia needs to invest more in PNG, and PNG’s Trade and International Investment Minister Richard Maru outlining the PNG government’s vision for investment and development in non-mining sectors. Each session on Day 1 will feature panels moderated by well-known Australian media personality Ms Ticky Fullerton. Day 2 of the Conference features policy statements by Mining Minister Ano Pala and Petroleum and Energy Minister Kerenga Kua, presentations by Kumul Petroleum and MRDC, project updates on all of PNG’s existing mining and energy projects, and the presentations of the next wave of resource and energy projects – Papua LNG Project, Pnyang LNG Project, Pasca Gas Project and Wafi Gold-Copper Project. Day 3 of the Conference features a unique 3 stream format focused on varied themes including Exploration growth, Climate Change & Energy, Improving Ease of Business, Infrastructure, and Business Success stories. Day 3’s program features a significant list of speakers including heads of government regulatory agencies, CEOs of various PNG and international businesses, and includes international institutions such as the IFC. The Conference concludes with a session that focuses on PNG success stories where resource revenues have been invested for future benefit, and a presentation on the importance of the PNG Sovereign Wealth Fund. “It’s an engaging and dynamic Conference program with a high-profile cast of speakers. I am very grateful for the support that the Prime Minister has provided to the Conference, and the unprecedented participation of Government Ministers and heads of departments and agencies as speakers. Industry and the PNG Government are presenting a united front in promoting PNG as an international investment destination at the Conference. We are pleased that we can work with the Government in this regard. The Prime Minister will be in a unique position in our history by speaking about the advancement of 4 major projects, and the potential doubling of PNG’s GDP in the near future, which can usher in significant economic benefits for our people.” Said Mr Anthony Smaré, President of the Chamber of Mines & Petroleum. “We are also very fortunate that so many high-profile leaders from some of the world’s largest companies have taken time out to come and speak at the Conference to outline why they believe PNG is an important place to invest in. Australian Minister Pat Conroy’s speech will give us an indication of Australia’s view of PNG’s importance. I am personally looking forward to the afternoon session on Day 1 when Julie Bishop will present her view as to why Australia needs to invest more in PNG, and Minister Richard Maru will challenge international companies and countries to invest more into the PNG Government’s investment priority areas such as infrastructure and agriculture.” “Over 1000 people are now registered to attend the Conference, but there is still some seats left, so I encourage business people not already registered, to quickly secure their seats at www.pngconference.com over the next few days. The Conference is unique because you can meet everyone who has a role in PNG’s resources and energy sector - Government policy makers and regulators, the business movers and shakers, landowners, financiers, investors, suppliers and contractors from all over the world – all in one place over three days from 5 to 7 December 2022 at the Sydney Hilton Hotel.”
PNG Business News - November 27, 2022
PM Marape supports development of oil palm industry on a massive scale in PNG
Photo: PM Marape and Governor Bird in discussions with representatives of Pacific Elite Palm Oil Group in Singapore on Monday (November 21, 2022). Prime Minister Hon. James Marape has given his support to development of the oil palm industry in Papua New Guinea on a massive scale. PM Marape gave his support after he and East Sepik Governor, Hon. Allan Bird, met with representatives of Pacific Elite Palm Oil Group in Singapore on Monday (November 21, 2022). The company currently runs an oil palm project in East Sepik, which it wants to emulate in all provinces, saying that it will be an economic gamechanger for the whole country. The company aims to create the largest agriculture-based wealth in the South Pacific, as well as generate electricity for PNG, using oil palm. Governor Bird told PM Marape that if a long-term oil palm development plan was drawn up, with the aim of economic independence for PNG, one million hectares of oil palm grown all over PNG would bring in an extra K100 billion for the country. “We can double our GDP just from palm oil,” he said. “If we go into downstream processing, this K100 billion could double, so that we could be earning K200 billion on top of our current GDP. “The other flow-on to the economy is power production that fits into the grid, carbon credits, increased cattle production, as well as jobs. “Palm oil is amazing because you can do so much with it, including green energy, which can be generated from the waste of palm oil. “If we have 33 operations throughout PNG, similar to what we are doing in East Sepik, 100,000 jobs would be created “This is brilliant.” Governor Bird told PM Marape that oil palm, when made into biofuel, would save the country millions of kina. “If we produce enough palm oil, we don’t need to go out and buy fuel, as we can produce our own,” he said. “It can also bring inflation down as we are no longer importing inflation. “I’m excited because it provides us an escape plan from all these things that are affecting us.” PM Marape welcomed the proposal by Pacific Elite Palm Oil Group and the ideas of Governor Bird, who has helped to grown the vanilla and cocoa industries in East Sepik, and PNG. “As regards expanding nationwide, I invite you to come to Port Moresby, and I will run the investment figures past the super funds and Kumul Consolidated Holdings,” he told the company’s spokesperson Alexander Tho. “A family of investors can easily mobilise the money required for the project. “I also want you to have a stake in the business, and run it, as we cannot do it on our own, in like what Barrick is doing at Porgera Mine.”