Prime Minister Hon. James Marape announced that the government has granted initial approval for the establishment of a Rice Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the country. This groundbreaking development may include a joint venture between the State and Rigo Rice.
Prime Minister Marape underlined the government’s commitment to kickstart a substantial commercial rice industry within the next five years, with the goal of replacing the country’s annual rice imports, valued at over K900 million.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Marape disclosed that the government has taken the decision to commence negotiations for a joint venture between the State and Rigo Rice, which will focus on large-scale commercial rice farming, initially in Rigo, Central Province, Sepik Plains in East Sepik, and other regions across the country.
To facilitate this, a State Negotiating Team has been appointed by the National Executive Council. This team will be chaired by Mr. Dairi Vele and will include key representatives such as Hon. Rufina Peter, Governor for Central Province, Mr. Daniel Rolpagarea, State Solicitor, Mrs. Jacinta Warakai-Manua, Acting Secretary for the Department of International Trade and Investment, Dr. Sergie Bang, Secretary for the Department of Agriculture, Mr. David Ganaii, Secretary for Department of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Allen Kukwin Hula, Legal Officer for Ministry of International Trade and Investment, Mr. Robin Wingwafi, Technical Consultant and Rice Scientist, Dr. David Kavanamur, Managing Director of Kumul Consolidated Holdings, Mr. Andrew Oaeke, Secretary for Department of Treasury, and Mr. Benjamin Samson, Secretary for Department of Land and Physical Planning.
Prime Minister Marape stressed the significance of this national project, stating, “The government places the highest priority on this initiative and is eager to see the State Negotiating Team conclude negotiations for a joint venture between the State and Rigo Rice, which will be established without delay to nurture our domestic rice industry.”
He emphasised the need to reduce the country’s reliance on rice imports, which currently stands at over 400,000 tonnes annually.
“To achieve self-sufficiency, it is estimated that more than 100,000 hectares of rice need to be cultivated’” Prime Minister Marape said.
“The government aims to realise this through a joint venture with Rigo Rice, commencing with the development of 6,000 hectares of unused State land in Rigo before expanding to other regions, including Central Province, the Sepik Plains, and other parts of the nation.
“This initiative aligns with our government’s focus on import replacement, wealth creation for our citizens, and the generation of numerous employment opportunities for our people.”