Agriculture To Get Added Boost With US$40m Loan
The agriculture sector is set to get a boost with the completion of the agreement to the US$40 million (approximately K120m) loan now underway for signing between the Department of Treasury and the World Bank.
Minister for Agriculture and Livestock John Simon said in a released statement yesterday.
Mr Simon said the signing will take place as soon as processes are in order within a week’s time.
He said the funds will be available for coffee, coconut, spice, and small livestock farmers in East and West New Britain, New Ireland, Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka, Western Highlands, Southern Highlands, Hela and Enga provinces.
Minister Simon said the funds are a part of a strategy which came to light after issues were raised on the K340 million EU funding focused only on East and West Sepik provinces, adding that it was only appropriate that avenues were identified to cater for farmers in other provinces as well, leading to the strategy of the US$40 million loan agreement.
The US$40 million will be invested in supporting Agriculture Based farmers under the Productive Partnership in Agriculture Project (PPAP).
NEC approved the project this year, January 15, in its decision No. 02/2020; the loan negotiation is led by the Treasury Department and was concluded in February 2020 where the loan was approved by the World bank the following month.
According to the World Bank, the US$40 million is a component of the approved US$100 million aimed at addressing some of the country’s most pressing human capital needs; the projects will deliver critical improvements in some of PNG’s most urgent priorities: health services – particularly in rural areas – as well as agriculture, nutrition and youth employment.
In April this year, Prime Minister Hon. James Marape described the approval of these monies as a milestone for the country especially in terms of addressing Papua New Guinea’s most critical development challenges.
This project is a five-year PNG Agriculture Commercialization and Diversification Project approved by the World Bank which aims to support the growth and diversification of PNG’s agricultural sector, particularly in rural areas.
Minister Simon said, “the overall objective of this project is to facilitate the development of competitive and diversified value chains in targeted provinces of PNG”.
He said there are three components to the project including: Institutional capacity building; market access; and productive partnership.
He said under the partnership there will be two sub-components including similar activities to PPA focusing on productivity, quality and formation of producer organizations and Aggregation, value – addition and marketing (matching grants for Producers’ Organisation and MSMEs’.
The project is estimated to benefit 15,000 households or more than 70,000 farmers.
Meanwhile, stakeholder groups such as the Farmers and Settlers Association Inc., while applauding the push of the Marape Government by focusing on agriculture and on SME development, it added having the systems and processes in place to implement the Government’s aims should be key to achieving its objectives in the sector.