Live cattle import is not the best option to develop the cattle industry in Papua New Guinea; It is a risk rather than good, says the Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru.
Minister Maru was making a reference to a news article published by Post Courier (Tuesday, June 27, 2023) on the Livestock Development Corporation’s (LDC’s) proposal to import live cattle from a cattle farm in Queensland.
“This proposal should be outlawed,” said Minister Maru.
Minister Maru questioned whose interest it was that LDC was acting for.
“It is definitely not in the best interest of PNG. Importation of live cattle poses huge biosecurity risks. Disease outbreaks could cause major production losses and seriously affect PNG's potential international livestock trade and have drastic economic and social impact on the whole country,” said Minister Maru.
Minister Maru said that imports of live cattle brought pests and diseases in the past.
“First in the 1970s importation of cattle and buffaloes from Queensland and Northern Territory respectively to Urimo in the Sepik Plains also imported cattle tick and brucellosis that had devasted the 10,000 cattle herds and beef industry in the Sepik. Feral buffaloes, remnants of that importation are still carrying the brucellosis disease in the Sepik Plains. The wild buffaloes are difficult to control which is preventing any new initiative for cattle raising in the Sepik Plains as the disease has the potential of infecting cattle. Second example is the outbreak of cattle tick in Markham valley in 1996. Ticks were imported along with live cattle from Queensland for breeding by a major cattle company. Thanks to NAQIA and the Cattle Industry for quick action to contain and stump out the pests from spread. These are the facts we must consider carefully when contemplating to import live animals into our country,” said Minister Maru.
“Alternative to live cattle import for breeding is artificial insemination or artificial breeding using semen imported from cattle genetic companies. Bull semen produced from biosecurity secured cattle genetic breeding stations are tested and guaranteed disease free. Ramu Beef major cattle producer in PNG had been breeding cattle by AI technique for many years and PNG have experienced AI technicians available. AI breeding is the fastest method of breeding and increasing national herd than natural breeding,” said Minster Maru.
Minister Maru applauded the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Hon. Aiye Tambua for taking the hard yard to ban importation of fresh, chilled, and frozen chicken meat from Australia and Asian countries.
“This is the first and important step for our country to protect our local poultry industry, native wild birds, and jobs. This ban is a significant victory for PNG poultry industry and food safety and biosecurity protection from incursion of transboundary avian diseases. With the ban in place, I welcome the PNG Poultry Industry Association (PIA) and the Departments of Agriculture and Livestock to work with my Ministry to develop a masterplan for poultry sector investment,” said Minister Maru.
“The masterplan must have a marketing policy that is robust in creating a successful poultry export market for PNG chicken meat that would bring material value to the entire value chain, from local producers and their shareholders to medium and small-scale farmers, exporters, processors, and consumers,” said Minister Maru.
“One of the strategies to succeed in global markets is to create export-oriented job. A thriving export market increases production capacity and employment across the board, not only for large-scale producers, but also for medium and small-scale farmers, many of whom are rural based, and that is an opportunity that must not be overlooked,” added Minister Maru.
Minister Maru said the Marape-Rosso Government was keen to see PNG invest more in downstream processing and value adding of agricultural commodities and food including livestock products.
“We must take advantage of our organic soils, clean environment, and disease-free status to increase our export share of agricultural products to overseas markets. We cannot continue to remain as import dependent nation, depending on imported floor, rice and canned fish and meat. We have some of the best nutritious food in the world which we can share with consumers in other countries who have preference for organic food.
Minister Maru said LDC’s plan to import live cattle from Australia must be stopped.
“Import of live cattle has the potential to wipe out and destroy the cattle industry of Papua New Guinea instead of growing it based on solid experience of the past which we have all learnt from,” said Minister Maru.