Agriculture

Agriculture

Paul Oeka - November 03, 2022

QUALITY COCOA ON THE RISE IN CHIMBU PROVINCE

Photo credit: Paga Hill Estate Large scale Cocoa farming is not something that is familiar in the highlands region of Papua New Guinea but the Chimbu Province in the highlands region is breaking barriers by engaging in large scale Cocoa farming for commercial purposes. For many this may sound peculiar because we have never heard of Cocoa being farmed in large scale for commercial purpose in Chimbu or any other parts of the highlands region for that matter. This is because cocoa and other crops that are grown in the coastal region do not adapt and grow well and yield in the highlands which is due to the cold weather and climate. But that has changed, thanks to climate change where there are more than a million cocoa trees growing in the Chimbu Province and cocoa farmers in the province are aiming to grow a million more cocoa trees by mid 2023. In Karamui alone there are more than 200,000 mature cocoa trees that are growing, making good money for the farmers in the area. There is a steadily increasing 30 hectare cocoa plantation known as Sorita cocoa plantation located in Karamui, Salt Nomane District in the Chimbu Province. From these 30 hectares they have already harvested and sold cocoa beans to the international market. Sorita Cocoa farm is the largest cocoa plantation in the highlands region and is owned by Norman Mondo, who has more than 20 hectares of cocoa plantation in Karamui and has a Cocoa Exporting licence. Cocoa board Chief Executive Officer Boto Gaupu presented a Cocoa export licence to Karamui cocoa farmer Norman Mondo a couple of years ago. Mr Mondo is slowly expanding his cocoa plantation to meet the world demand. Mostly he employs the local villagers in the Karamui area to work in his plantation. Karamui cocoa came second in PNG Cocoa of Excellency show in Lae, Morobe Province in 2019 and also came in at 50th place amongst 375 countries who competed for the world Cocoa Excellency show in France last year. World Cocoa analysts have labelled the Cocoa beans from the Chimbu province to be some of the biggest Cocoa beans internationally as the cocoa beans that have been produced in the province are sampled to be quite huge. While the cocoa farm in Karamui is expanding every day, the people of the neighbouring Gumine District have also planted more than 200,000 cocoa trees and are continuing to plant this year to reach the one million mark. The Gumine Cocoa farmers were supported by their former local MP Nick Kuman, who had urged his people to seriously look at cocoa as an alternate cash crop apart from coffee. He stressed that cocoa has the potential to produce high yield and good returns in income to the farmers. The former MP had given out K2 million in Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) funds for the Gumine district and wants farmers in this area to utilise these funds to tap into the cultivating and farming of Cocoa. In relation, Field service quality assurance manager of the Cocoa Board of PNG Mr Nathan Wartovo said cocoa normally grows in the coastal areas but today it is growing well in the highlands region because of climate change. "Karamui in Chimbu province has been the leader in the highlands region in cocoa farming but now we also have farmers in Eastern Highlands, Jiwaka and Western Highlands farming cocoa". Wartovo said. He said farmers in these areas were brought in by the Cocoa Board to display their cocoa at the Highlands Cocoa show hosted earlier this year in Kundiawa, Chimbu Province. It is already becoming a reality that Chimbu Province has become the first province in the highlands region to farm and produce high quality cocoa and is competitive in the country and on the international market against other cocoa beans.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 31, 2022

Agriculture Sector Needs K1B Budget

For the duration of 2023, the agriculture sector's planned operations would require a budgetary expenditure of K1 billion. Dr. Nelson Simbiken, acting secretary for the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, stated that the government must provide between K500 million and K1 billion to the sector if K1 billion is not possible. Nine commodity sectors, including the NAQIA, NARI, cocoa, coffee, coconut, spice, rubber, fresh produce, and oil palm industries, are included in the budget, according to him. “In 2023, that is the budget we want and we are expecting the government to give us between K500 million and K1 billion so that we are able to support our citizens through agriculture,” he said. According to Dr. Simbiken, the Department of Agriculture would require a total budget of K300 million to enable the department get started in the correct way by creating a new corporate or business strategy. “We will be launching the corporate plan at the end of this month or early next month. “We are going to restructure, reorganise and get our staff to work in the regions and in the districts getting closer to the farmers,” he said. “We have a new corporate plan coming up and we will ensure that by 2023 we will implement the corporate plan so that we address key policy agendas for the government, that is commercialisation, downstream processing, encouraging growth in the SME sector, financial inclusion of all our citizens, going into the rural areas and engaging through agriculture business across the regions. “We want to create the agriculture business incubation across the regions for our rural people to participate.”   Reference: Post-Courier (25 October 2022). “Agri Sector Needs K1b In 2023 Budget”.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 31, 2022

Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to Strengthen Economy, Says Marape

According to Prime Minister James Marape, commercial agriculture, fisheries, and forestry will be used to strengthen the rural economy of the nation. Marape stated that a strong agricultural foundation was a goal of the government. “Growing the rural economy through agriculture presents many opportunities,” he said. “We must explore commercial agriculture, unlock land, and look to open new markets for our products.” “The Government will maintain the commodity price support and freight subsidy programmes, both of which have had enormous impacts on the growth of the agricultural sector. “But we must build economic infrastructure to unlock the potential of rural areas and build market systems through digital platforms so that our people can trade more seamlessly in an increasingly integrated global marketplace.” According to Marape, the government has also created a long-term plan for the growth of fisheries. “The plan builds regulatory resilience, but importantly also provides very clear guidance on fisheries investment, and downstream processing,” he said. As a Government, we must participate in the market directly and encourage downstream processing of all our marine products, not just tuna. “And in forestry, we remain committed to stopping all round log exports by 2025 as a first industry to migrate to downstream processing.”   Reference: The National (25 October 2022). “Agriculture, fisheries and forestry crucial”.

Agriculture

Paul Oeka - October 24, 2022

MINISTER WONG PRAISES PRODUCTIVE FISHERIES RESULTS

Photo credit: PNG Bulletin Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister, Hon Jelta Wong, MP, has stated that THE Prime Minister Hon James Marape has opened doors to create new market opportunities for PNG seafood exports to Japan. He said this when welcoming the Prime Minister upon his return from international duties. “The Prime Minister is the first Minister of the nation, who as team captain supports each minister in our duties, and on behalf of the Fisheries sector l am very pleased to see the inroads he has created during recent international engagements,” Minister Wong said. “During his meetings in Tokyo in particular, the Prime Minister opened doors to create new market opportunities for PNG seafood exports to Japan. “We can sell more tuna, prawns and other seafood to Japan at a premium price, but that does not happen by magic. Negotiations between the PNG and Japan Governments, and between our governments with businesses in both countries, have to take place to make new trade happen. With the COVID-19 threat receding, now is the time to negotiate the return of direct flights to Tokyo, so they can carry our fresh tuna to meet high end market demand in Japan. “The PM and his delegation drew the right people together to expand our fisheries exports, and we will have positive announcements on these matters in the coming weeks.”

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 24, 2022

Marape: PNG Can Learn From Israel in Agro Tech

Photo credit: Verdict According to Prime Minister James Marape, Papua New Guinea can learn a lot from Israel, particularly in the field of agricultural technology. Marape made the comment in Parliament in response to a query from Morobe Governor Luther Wenge on the potential for PNG to open an embassy in Israel and vice versa as a Christian nation. According to Marape, former prime minister Peter O'Neill originally suggested creating a PNG Embassy in Israel when travelling to that country in 2013. During the most recent United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States, he claimed to have also met Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid. They talked about the prospect of travelling to one another's nations. “It is not only in religion that we can relate to Israel,” Marape said. “Israel is a knowledge-based economy that exports agriculture products grown using hydroponic technology. “Israel has eight flights a week, transporting exports of vegetables and fruits, although it is only half the size of Angoram, East Sepik. “We can learn much from Israel.” Having a bilateral connection with them, according to Marape, is crucial in the field of agricultural technology and is not based on shared religious beliefs. “I look forward to our officials progressing what the political leaders have discussed,” he said.   Reference: The National (17 October 2022). “Israel can offer agro tech: PM”.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 10, 2022

China And PNG Collaborate on Feasibility Study for Free Trade Agreement

Photo credit: China Daily According to an official, the governments of China and Papua New Guinea are collaborating on a feasibility assessment for a prospective bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). According to a representative for the Chinese embassy, the FTA may help to increase bilateral commerce, particularly in the food and agriculture sectors. “China is a large market where opportunities are still there for more imports,” he said. “There is enormous potential for agricultural cooperation between China and PNG. “During Prime Minister James Marape’s visit to China earlier this year, the two sides revised an existing protocol to expand the scope of frozen marine products allowed to be exported to China and signed a new protocol to allow marine products to enter the Chinese market. “The two governments also signed a memorandum of understanding on agricultural cooperation. “The PNG Government is committed to growing more agricultural produces and developing downstream processing to satisfy domestic needs and for further export, and the Chinese side is ready to tap into the potential and strengthen cooperation in those areas with PNG.” The embassy said that several Chinese companies have expressed interest in making investments in a range of PNG industry areas, including but not limited to energy, mining, and agriculture. According to the spokeswoman, many prospective investors think that PNG has a promising economy with significant room for growth. “The Chinese government encourages more Chinese companies to invest and start operating in PNG on the basis of mutual benefit and market principles, to join and contribute to PNG’s industrialisation drive and capacity building for sustainable development. “China always supports PNG’s efforts to achieve independent development and prosperity for the country.”   Reference: Esila, Peter. The National (5 October 2022). “Trade to focus on agri”.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 10, 2022

Partnership to Increase Cocoa Production

Photo credit: Paga Hill For the country to produce more cocoa, there has to be more cooperation between the provincial administrations and the local cocoa farmers. The partnership is the only way to forward the work, according to Albert Nukuitu, chairman of the Papua New Guinea Cocoa Board. He stated that the PNG Cocoa Board is committed to such collaboration and that the management and board now have the responsibility of making the necessary arrangements. The popularity of cocoa in Mamose and the New Guinea Islands region is well recognised. In addition to the other Southern area provinces and the Highlands, Central Province is now focusing on cultivating cocoa; nevertheless, the lack of market and resource partnerships is hurting the farmers' dedication to the industry. A memorandum of understanding between provincial governments and their Department of Primary Industry (DPI) personnel, according to Mr. Nukuitu, is essential at this point in order to support the Cocoa Board. He said that because the Cocoa Board lacks the ability, this arrangement will enable its regional office staff to collaborate with each province government to support the nation's cocoa farmers. “We have people who can drive initiative like this but we need the support of different stakeholders in the industry to enhance the work to increase the output,” he said. The government's priority, according to Anthony Vigil, interim chief executive officer of the Cocoa Board of Papua New Guinea, is to increase the economy by K200 million by 2030. According to him, only cocoa will produce 300 million tonnes of cocoa a year and contribute more to the national economy. “The challenge is on us the management and the board, and the government is working closely with the board to ensure we produce enough volume.” Mr. Vigil said that there are already existing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) for cocoa with provinces in the Southern area, including the Gulf, but they did not materialise due to the lack of resources required. The board urges farmers to start cocoa farms because it is prepared to help them, especially in Central Province's new development zones.   Reference: Wohi, Lorraine. Post-Courier (03 October 2022). “Partnership To Increase Cocoa Production”.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 10, 2022

Philippines To Send Farming Team To PNG

A potential large-scale rice farming company in the Philippines will be sending a delegation to Papua New Guinea in November this year to evaluate the country’s potential for large-scale rice farming in Central Province. Richard Maru, the minister for international trade and investment, emphasised this as one of his accomplishment goals during a recent visit to the Philippines. They were asked by Minister Maru to travel to Papua New Guinea to consider starting a commercial rice farm. “PNG needs to identify up to 90,000 hectares of land to grow rice in order to produce the rice initially to feed our own population and to export the surplus back to the Philippines,” he said. “We will be working very closely with the Central Governor and the leaders from the Central Province to assist us in identifying land in Central Province to grow rice on a large scale. “It would also be a great opportunity for the landowners when we are talking about a K800 million per year rice import replacement opportunity.” Despite having a long-standing connection, PNG and the Philippines have not yet signed a trade agreement or an economic partnership agreement. The long-pending double tax treaty, the free trade agreement, and technical assistance from the Philippines to PNG for the development of Special Economic Zones and downstream processing support, particularly in commercial rice farming, were also agreed upon by the two nations. They also agreed to hold their first trade meeting. Mr. Maru stated that until more progress is made in the bilateral trade and investment relationship, trade discussions between the two nations are anticipated to be held every six months. Concerningly, while PNG does not offer an on-arrival visa, the Philippine government does for Papua New Guineans entering the Philippines. According to Mr. Maru, the PNG government should investigate the possibility of offering on-arrival visas to Filipino visitors to PNG in order to increase cross-border interactions. Following confirmation from the government of the Philippines, the first trade meeting is scheduled to take place during the first week of November.   Reference: Post-Courier (3 October 2022). “Investor Keen On Rice Farming”.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - October 03, 2022

Upskilling fermentary-business owners to boost Papua New Guinea quality cocoa exports

The EU-STREIT PNG Programme in collaboration with the Cocoa Board rolled out eight capacity building workshops for 470 local cocoa processors on cocoa quality control measures.   The Greater Sepik region of Papua New Guinea is leading area in cocoa production in the country, but quality has been a concern compared to other cocoa producing provinces. To address this quality issue, the FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG Programme in collaboration with the PNG Cocoa Board organised a series of capacity building trainings for small fermentary business owners in East Sepik and Sandaun provinces. The weeklong workshops were intensive and conducted simultaneously over five weeks in August and September 2022 in eight different districts of East Sepik and Sandaun provinces namely Angoram, Yangoru-Saussia, Wewak, Maprik, Wosera-Gawi, Ambunti-Drekikier, Nuku, and Aitape-Lumi. A total of 470 participants including some model farmers were taken through Cocoa Act 1981, Cocoa Inspection Regulations, requirements for registration of cocoa fermentaries, PNG export standards, and different agencies involved in the cocoa industry. The cocoa business actors were also trained on proper cocoa drying and fermentation processes, including how to break cocoa pods, and quality management skills. Group discussions with field visits to model cocoa blocks and small fermentary set-ups and exporters’ processing facilities were part of these weeklong trainings. While opening the session in Wewak, the EU-STREIT Deputy Programme Coordinator Dr Pavel Burian said: “As a fermentary owner, you have crucial roles to play in the value chain to ensure quality beans are exported for an improved financial return for your business as well as for cocoa farmers to improve their livelihoods in a more sustainable way.” “It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure quality beans that are exported for higher financial returns for processing as well as to benefit smallholder farmers with better incentive. After this training, you learn how to process your beans properly, but the beans from other fermentary owners who didn’t get this opportunity will be mixed with yours for export, so it is important to share this knowledge with others to maintain uniform quality for holistic benefit” explained the Programme’s Senior Agricultural Officer, Dr Rabi Rasaily, while closing the training held for Aitape cocoa businesspersons. Facilitating these set of trainings were three female and three national male experts from the Quality Section of the Cocoa Board Head Office in Kokopo, East New Britain Province. Mr Daryll Worimo, the PNG Cocoa Board Regional Manager for Sepik, also emphasised: “the aim of these trainings is to address the quality issues experienced at the farmers and fermentary owners’ levels. With these trainings, we found that many participants are very happy and understand the importance of quality.” For the participants, the opportunity has set them well to improve on their practices. “As fermentary owners I think we now know what to do because the training was presented in practical way and we understood well,” said Grace Klembesa a female beneficiary who attended the session in Aitape. Highlight of Cocoa for Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea, and namely the Greater Sepik region, has excellent agro-ecological potential to produce valuable agricultural economic crops, including cocoa, and to further downstream agri-businesses activities development. Cocoa production provides jobs and income for the rural population, which remains predominant throughout Papua New Guinea. In the main regions of production, around 30% of households produce cocoa, while representing 15% of the number of households at the national level.  Around one million people’s livelihoods depend on cocoa. In East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, where the Programme is being implemented, cocoa is an important source of income for about 500,000 people. Cocoa in PNG is estimated to grow on 130,000 ha in coastal provinces, as a monoculture or intercropped with coconuts or other food crops. However, this potentiality mostly remained untapped or under-developed, mainly due to lack of sufficient investment, support and capacity, and insufficient infrastructures, leaving the Sepik region less equipped with resources to progress toward sustainable economic development. The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a United Nations joint Programme (FAO as the leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. The Programme focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through Increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-resistant transport and energy infrastructure development.  

Agriculture

Paul Oeka - September 29, 2022

AGRICULTURE HAS HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL

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.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - September 26, 2022

Empowering Rural Women and Youths in Papua New Guinea on Group Leadership & Agri-Business Management

Photo: EU-STREIT PNG addresses gender-based violence and its subsequent negative impact on inclusive participation and transformational change in seven remote villages in Sandaun Province A 5-day intensive training workshop on establishing and organising agri-business groups, with a focus on Group Leadership and Business Management skills, was recently organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), under EU-STREIT PNG Programme, for 70 cluster group leaders inclusive of women and potential youth leaders from seven villages in West Aitape Local Level Government, Sandaun Province. The workshop also focused on raising awareness on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) among cocoa, vanilla and fisheries farming communities. The venue for the training was Marubian Village (Ulau 2), located along the tropical west coastline of Aitape. Lack of knowledge and skills in leadership, particularly among rural women and youth, prevents villagers from partaking equally in decision-making at the executive level of farmer groups. With this insight, the farmers were also trained on how to establish and manage their cooperatives in a gender-sensitive manner.  The first sessions, focused on the importance of mainstreaming gender and youth perspectives and addressed issues of gender-based violence within the three targeted value chains. The sharing of household roles and responsibilities to allow for additional time to contribute positively in farming activities for quality and quantity production, the gender constraints in the value chain development as well as valuing everyone’s inputs by family members for appropriate reward and respect were some of the issues discussed. It was the first time that the villagers were learning about shared gender roles in contrast to some existing cultural norms. Through group discussions, participants came to realise how the sharing of household workload could   improve their lives as well as their farming output. "Everything begins in the house. As long as we share responsibilities within the house, we can save time and be more productive on the farms," explained Ms Patu Shang, Programme's Gender and Youth Inclusion Specialist. The sessions, filled with dynamic interactions, group discussions and presentations, provided an opportunity for mothers and girls whose efforts and contribution have hitherto not been appreciated, to speak out. "This group gathering is a window for these mothers to say yes they can speak and not to remain silent and likewise for youths to see life in a positive way," said Mrs Angela Passingan, Chairlady of BAMA Womens' Group who organised the mothers in the village to collaborate with EU-STREIT PNG Programme for this learning opportunity. The women's group comprises mostly single mothers, including widows, and they invited female and male youths in the community to join them. This opportunity equally helped this group to build its organisational capacity. "I believe this training will help us in many ways. Once we can fix our homes in terms of sharing gender responsibilities, we can manage other aspects of our lives like farming cocoa and vanilla," added Mr Joseph Sarinu, Ward 29 Member. The sessions on farmer group leadership with a business approach helped boost women and youths' confidence to take up leadership roles. Some key contents covered include Benefits of Cooperative Ownership, Understanding Regulatory Compliances, Goals Setting & Action Planning, Roles of Leaders/Members in Cooperatives, and Understanding the Organisational Structure of Cooperatives. The importance of working in groups to take part in agribusiness in cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains was also shared and discussed. Involving women and youths in active dialogues is necessary in this regard. "This training has clarified my thoughts that my sister has a right to be consulted in decision-making and participation in our farmer group we want to run in our community," said a 25-year-old male youth Jason Kagum. The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a United Nations Joint Programme (FAO as the leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. The Programme focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development. 

Agriculture

PNG Business News - September 26, 2022

Industry Standards Crucial, Says Oil Palm Minister

Best industry practises and certification standards, according to OIL Palm Minister Francis Maneke, are crucial for both the agriculture sector and the oil palm business. Maneke said that it will make agriculture more sustainable and continue to boost the economy during a sector meeting on Monday in Port Moresby. He complimented the government for designating oil palm, coffee, and cattle as the ministerial responsibilities for those particular agricultural products. “For oil palm, it is a total revolution for this country – the standards, certifications in oil palm,” he said. “The product is certified under the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil), so we must sustain the best practices with respect to the certification standards. “The certification of our products going out of the country must be an agenda from now onwards. “We must have standard technology in the way we do business in agriculture.” It is a top priority to revise the Oil Palm Industry Corporation Act (1992), and two bills are prepared to be introduced in Parliament. “In the oil palm Industry, we must reduce poverty level because there is so much land, yet our people are still poor,” Maneke said. “The industry is already 40 years old (but) there has never been any improvement in the poverty status of oil palm growers. “There is no regulation that defines properly the management of the industry.   Reference: The National (15 September 2022). “Sustainability in agro sector vital”.

Agriculture

PNG Business News - September 13, 2022

Boosting agribusiness by opening access to markets for 16,000 plus Papua New Guinean

EU-STREIT PNG started work on two additional farm-to-market access roads in Sandaun and East Sepik provinces totalling 56 plus km, to serve over 16,000 villagers, including businesspersons, women and school children, with improved access to towns, health posts and schools.   The International Labour Organization (ILO) under the EU Funded UN Joint STREIT EU-STREIT PNG has started major improvement work on two key Farm-to-Market Access Roads in Vanimo-Green District, Sandaun Province and Wosera-Gawi District, East Sepik Province. Connecting two Pasi and Krisa rural communities in Bewani-Wutung Onei LLG of Sandaun Province, this 25 km road will serve more than 3,000 rural population. Thirteen thousand plus villagers living in South Wosera and North Wosera LLGs, East Sepik Province, will also benefit from a road rehabilitation project started by ILO to improve the 31.6 KM Farm-to-Market Access Road connecting Patiko and Nuangawai rural communities, it includes 13,000 plus farming-dependant population who lives along this road. The roads rehabilitation and maintenance projects implemented by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme will provide safe, reliable, and climate-resilient transport infrastructure to cocoa, vanilla and fishery-dependant farming communities in the Sepik region, facilitating agribusiness nourishment, people, goods and crops movements and better marketing for locally produced agri-food products. “These roads are important since they help the trade and open business opportunities, market access and also help who provide services such as trucking and Public Motor Vehicle (PMV) operators for movement of people and goods,” said Mr Wesley Weli, Director of National Authorising Officer Support Unit, Department of National Planning and Monitoring.  Likewise, these farm-to-market access roads are also a relief to villagers, particularly women and mothers who carry heavy loads and walk with their children for hours to the main highway to catch a PMV to town to sell their produce and get medical treatment. “These roads are very important also in terms of enabling socioeconomic indicators, including health, education, and financial services. These roads also help local businesses and movement along the roads. These projects are a win for all fronts, for all people living around roads,” explained Mr Weli. “We mothers feel the pain of carrying heavy garden produce as well as our sick children and walk this road for hours to the junction. If we’re lucky, we catch a PMV to town. If not, we walk back to the village and do the same thing the next day,” said Maria Mali, a mother of 11 children and grandmother of 12 grandchildren, living along Pasi-Krisa road in Bewani-Wutung Onei LLG. Maria was part of about 500 villagers who celebrated the start of specific maintenance and Rehabilitation work on the Pasi Krisa road. She has been married for 45 years and shares the dilemma the women in the area face. She said there has been no proper maintenance on this road until the recent intervention by ILO under the European Union-funded STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea. The two roads rehabilitation and improvement projects will be completed in 12 months which include scarifying and reshaping of existing surface, spot re-gravelling, construction of reinforced concrete cement (RCC) box and pipe culverts, and gabion retaining wall as well as installation of crash barrier at different locations. The works also include erecting traffic signs and signages to increase visibility and ensure safety of passengers.  Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of Patiko-Nuangawai access road’s rehabilitation work, the EU-STREIT PNG Programme Coordinator, Dr Xuebing Sun said, “Road is the backbone of many rural infrastructure systems. Road provides assurance for the supply of the agricultural inputs, facilitates the delivery of the farm outputs to the markets, and assure your accesses to financing, health and education services. Road will also help you to strengthen competitiveness of your products in the market.  Sincere thanks to the EU for its generous funding support, I am really happy that after one year, this road can reach you. I want to request for your active support, contribution, and participation to this road project as much as possible. Sustainability and long-term use of the road through effective maintenance rely on you; you are the ones who are going to use and own this road.” Calling on the community to support the road project, ILO’s Chief Infrastructure Specialist, Mr Shailendra Kumar Jha, said, “the contractor is willing to complete the whole roads with quality before the 12 months period, that will generate thousands of paid decent jobs for local community and youths, however community support and collaborations are must. The Road project will also transfer the skills to local youths for future use and employability.” This Pasi-Krisa (25 km) & Patiko-Nuangawai (30.6 km) are two out of 15 selected rural roads in the Sepik totalling 264 km in length for rehabilitation/specific maintenance by ILO to support the market access initiative implemented by the FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG to boost agribusiness activities and cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains for an improved income and cash flow for the rural sector. The roads will also support other agricultural, business, markets, services, inputs and 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, 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. Being implemented in close cooperation with the National and provincial government institutions, research entities, civil society organisations, and private sector enterprises, 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-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development. 

Agriculture

Paul Oeka - September 12, 2022

PNG FISHING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR NFA POLICY REFORM

The president & chairman of Papua New Guinea's Fishing Industry Association (FIA), Sylvester Barth Pokajam is calling on the new Government to reform its National Fisheries Authority policy document. This policy document provides the legal framework and guides the regulatory regime of the fisheries sector. The policy should focus more on key areas on building basic and appropriate infrastructure such as fishing ports, having affordable and readily accessible utilities such as water, electricity and communication is vital for the growth of the industry and to foster interest amongst many individual groupings and businesses both within and outside to look at fisheries investment opportunities in PNG. Mr. Pokajam said, “Attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has stalled since 2013 due to inconsistent and sudden shift in Government policy after Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s regime”. “In fact, between 1998 and 2013, six new tuna-processing plants were built in PNG, but investment has been stalled since then”. The FIA also refutes the claim by so called external advisors and experts that attracting investors is not the main problem. “It is not just investment but finding the right investment. Investors must be enticed or attracted to invest where there is a win-win situation for both parties”. Said Pokajam Mr. Pokajam emphasized on two factors that determine potential fishing operators to invest, which are; Fishing operators invest in processing to gain license concession. This is a conventional global practice that rewards frontrunners for investing substantially in developing the local industry and the sector. We need processors to invest not fishing operators to invest. This is a situation where a processor is able to put in place additional shifts in its processing operation as a result of the expansionary government policy where the negative impacts are reduced.   The FIA strongly supports the Marape Government in taking back PNG as it strives to fully involve and support the participation and inclusion of PNG in the fishing and processing business. Pokajam said "The FIA is happy that the Prime Minister continues to support the PNG aspiration to make PNG the tuna capital of the world, a feat that is not impossible under his leadership". "This is a quest we planned for after we were able to negotiate a Tariff free access to the EU." added Mr. Pokajam. During Pokajam's tenure as the former Managing Director of the National Fisheries Authority from 2004 to 2014 he had seen the rush of serious proposals for on-shore investments. A lot of major investors such as Frabelle PNG Ltd, International Food Corporation Ltd, Nambawan Seafood Corporation Ltd, and Majestic Seafood Ltd were established in Lae, in addition to RD in Madang and South Seas Tuna Corporation Ltd/FCF in Wewak. Two other investors who had already acquired land in Lae, signed project agreement with the State in 2013, but did not continue due to sudden change in Government Policy. One of the biggest investors was Majestic sea food Ltd which is partly owned by the two world players in the tuna processing industry, Thai Union Group of Thailand and Century Pacific Food Inc of Philippines, Thai being the biggest tuna processor in the world and Century the biggest in the Philippines. Majestic Sea Food Ltd and our current tuna industry players have played a huge role in helping to boost our export to EU markets. Pokajam explained that the Cost to operate a processing facility in PNG that competes in the world continues to be a big challenge. An ideal set up should be an entity doing fishing and processing at the same time ensuring supply of tuna for processing and the flexibility to market its products so that it can reduce the impact of high cost. FIA was also able to secure a reputable Marine Steward Council (MSC certification scheme) ECO label for PNG. "There is a lot more work to do. We shall work closely with the Prime Minister and his Government by providing accurate industry market information to guide the Government to enable us to achieve our aspiration". Said Pokajam. In relation, another issue with the current Government policy is the higher prices it charges for the country’s vessel-day scheme (VDS), which governs its tuna-fishing sector. From hard facts, other Pacific nations are charging USD 6,000 to USD 7,000 (PGK21,700 – PGK25,300) for daily access for their domestic fleets, but in PNG, the cost is USD 10,500 (PGK38,000) daily. Investors that would like to invest in PNG look for competitive cost of license and the VDS is a scheme PNG can use to attract both local investor and foreign direct investors. In late February 2022, the number of tuna purse-seiners (Large fishing vessels) flagged to Papua New Guinea had dropped significantly as a result of the higher prices. More PNG flagged vessels are reflagging to other Pacific countries, especially Nauru and FSM (Federated States of Micronesia). Since 2019, a total of 28 vessels have moved to reflag to Federated States of Micronesia and 9 reflagged to Nauru. These two countries offered discounted vessel day scheme fees and facilitated access for vessels to fish in the Eastern High Seas Pocket. Only a dozen purse-seiners remain flagged to PNG. The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) is very much aware of this dilemma and have stated that the country needed “conducive policies in place to attract vessels to carry the PNG flag and fish in the country's fishing zones.” In addition, the FIA also shares the same sentiments as expressed by “The Farmers and Settlers Association Inc.,” that the Government should not get involved directly in the industries whether it be fisheries, forestry and downstream processing of precious metals which is something that should be discouraged at the outset. Past experiences have shown the many failed ventures that the Government had been involved in and therefore the Government should concentrate more in supporting domestic PNG private sector entities and foreign direct Investors through an expansionary fiscal policy.

Agriculture

Paul Oeka - September 08, 2022

MINISTER AIMS TO REVAMP OIL PALM

Oil Palm growers, investors and stakeholders need to take notice and work closely with the government to revamp the once thriving industry. The newly appointed minister for Oil Palm Hon. Francis Maneke realizes and sees the creation of the Oil Palm industry as a way forward and a huge advance in the industry that has been subjected to indifference for the past 40 to 50 years. Maneke who is also the MP for the Nakanai electorate in the West New Britain Province said " It was unfortunate that over the years the cash crop had been allowed to deteriorate through lack of attention, research and development, grower incentives, downstream processing and other value adding innovations".  "The government's vision to take back PNG is in line with the the timely creation of the the Oil Palm Ministry. Prime Minister James Marape and his PANGU led government have taken a bold stance by showing the initiative to create this ministry along with three other newly created ministries under the Marape - Rosso government, " he said.  "With the Prime Minister's vision in taking back PNG and leading onwards to a better economic independence, the creation of the Oil Palm Ministry is a revival of the industry which will add more value towards the economy," Maneke explained. The Minister is also very vocal about the sector and has pushed for legislations to evaluate the oil palm act so it can maximize the growers interest. To take advantage of this positive outlook the new Oil Palm Ministry wil work hard and closely with the industry to restore the lucrative and ongoing market for the benefit of the economy amidst this hardships that are currently faced during this hard times for the sake of Papua New Guinea Oil Palm growers. Manake is adamant that the initiative to establish the ministry is an added bonus for the growers and the country as a whole. The Oil Palm industry is sustainable in terms of its revenue and can really support the economy if there is much assistance by the government. Furthermore he said that we must start managing our land so that we can be able to to develope it in line with the organizations that are managing PNG's climate change and global warming impacts. Now that the Oil Palm industry has been given prominence the Minister is sure that production will increase as well as the revenue generated. This will then have a positive effect in boosting the economy. The Oil Palm industry is to valuable to remain neglected due to its economic value and importance for the future benefit of Papua New Guinea.

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