Wilmar International Limited Set to Commence Detailed Feasibility Study

By: PNG Business News March 03, 2024

Wilmar International Limited is set to immediately commence detailed feasibility study on two Joint Ventures (JV) with the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) on commercial large-scale rice farm and chicken production. Wilmar CEO & Chairman, Mr. Khoon Hong Kuok said this in a meeting recently with the Minister for International Trade and Investment, Hon. Richard Maru in Singapore.

Mr. Kuok said: “PNG can be transformed through agriculture; it has so much potential to be a giant in agriculture. It just needs good partners and strong commitment from the Government and the availability of state land to realize its potential. Wilmar is ready to come to PNG in the next two weeks to start a feasibility study for commercial large-scale rice farm in Rigo, Central Province and in the Sepik Plains, and chicken production for broilers, eggs, and day-old chicks in Port Moresby. These are the two low-hanging fruits. PNG can easily produce enough chicken its own chicken needs and be a network exporter. The same is true for rice. PNG has great weather, very rich soils, high yielding rice varieties, and if land is made available PNG can easily produce enough rice to replace the 400,000 metric tons of rice PNG imports valued at K900 million annually. We have large-scale rice and chicken operations in China and in Indonesia and we are very keen to partner the Government of PNG in these two areas initially and we are also happy for Papua New Guineans to buy into these two proposed joint venture companies.”

Mr. Kuok further stated: “The price of chicken in PNG is three times the price of chicken in Malaysia. The main reason for this is the cost of feed. We are determined to work with the Government of PNG to go into domestic production of feed to help reduce the price of chicken for the benefit of Papua New Guineans whose main protein is chicken. The price of chicken in PNG is simply ridiculous and unacceptable and the PNG Government has a duty to reduce the cost of chicken as part of its overall plan to reduce the current very high cost of living in PNG.”

Wilmar International Limited is the largest and most integrated leading agribusiness group in the Asia Pacific Region and it is ranked amongst the largest listed company by market capitalization on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The Independent State of PNG signed an MoU with Wilmar International Limited in December last year to invest in domestic rice industry, chicken operations, feed industry, flour, oil palm, and sugar as equity partners.

Minister Maru assured Mr. Kuok in the meeting today in Singapore that the PNG Government was ready with equity to fund the large-scale commercial rice farm and chicken production in Port Moresby subject to the feasibility studies to determine commercial viability of these two potential projects under the proposed JV.

“Rice and chicken are our number one priority- these two are the low-hanging fruits which we want to start immediately so we can stop importing K200 million worth of chicken and K900 million worth of rice annually and create hundreds of new jobs, more business opportunities for our SMEs, and wealth creation opportunities for our village people including our landowners who are able to unlock their land and participate in many of these potential business opportunities under our planned nucleus estate project modality,” said Minister Maru.

Minister Maru further stated: “The Government really wants a major supplier of broiler, day-old chicks, and eggs for the Port Moresby market. We have so many farmers and SMEs who are into chicken production, but they cannot get their supplies of day-old chicks constantly because we have shortage of day-old chicks in the country. This is a very serious situation that is resulting in loss of business for our farmers and our inability to meet the domestic needs of our people. Air Niugini operates out of Port Moresby so if we have a big supplier of day-old chicks in Port Moresby it will make sense as we can be able to reach the rest of the country every day through the Air Niugini flights. This is why we need Wilmar to invest in this space in a JV with the National Government, Central Provincial Government, and other local investors so we can fill this gap. The other issue is chicken and eggs supplied out of Lae are expensive because of freight. By investing in Port Moresby, we will reduce the cost of broilers, eggs, and day-old chicks. We also have to further reduce the price of the chicken by establishing domestic feed industry to reduce the cost of feed, and we may have to support the local feed industry by imposing tax on importing feed from other countries. These are some of the issues that the Government will seriously look at.”

“Morobe Province already has a world class feed mill in Lae and all we need to do is produce crops like corn or maize on a large scale and consistent basis to supply to this feed mill instead of the company Goodmen Fielder importing from outside the country. We have to move to large-scale mechanized farming which will require both significant capital and land. The Morobe Provincial Government is encouraged to pursue these potential opportunities for its farmers with Goodman Fielder in Lae that is owned by Wilmar International Limited,” Minister Maru added.

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