“And agriculture will generate income for the family and the nation,” said Prime Minister James Marape during the October 4th South Pacific Institute of Sustainable Agriculture Conference, which was held at the University of Technology in Lae.
“The greatest individual, country and global need is not oil, gas, gold, iron, timber, etc but food and oxygen. We have both here in abundance in PNG.
“Put oxygen aside and just on food; if 8 million citizens of our country are burning their kinetic energy for sustainable agriculture or spending money equivalent to K1 on food a day, it will add up to about K2.92 billion business and industry opportunity in our country alone.
“That’s the most conservative estimate. Food is a big industry in business; both globally and locally. For instance, our Government’s policy on production of sufficient rice and beef by 2025 will mean that we are retaining almost $1 billion of capital flight every year offshore.
“When I look at our trading partners in our APEC and ASEAN neighbourhood, I see a mighty big population of 110 million Filipinos, 260 million Indonesians, 1.4 billion Chinese, and a balance of around a billion people in the Asia Pacific Region who all need to eat food every day.
“Whether it’s organic food for the health conscious affluent or just food for the masses, in a world of unpredictable weather patterns, climate change and declining arable land, Papua New Guinea will be the food basket of Asia Pacific in the first instance.
“Agriculture can be an economic powerhouse for PNG, we have good quality arable land, we have water available all year round, we have sunshine all year round, and best of all our citizens own 95 percent of all our nation’s 462,840 square kilometres of land.”
Marape said the Government will endeavour to unlock PNG’s potential in agriculture business by doing the following:
- Do up an agriculture map to know which part of our country has what potential
- Build enabling infrastructures systematically so we not only develop agriculture but enable efficient delivery of produces to the markets;
- Structure our families into SMEs and corporative that can be linked to SME and business support facilities that the Government will establish with financial institutions;
- Linking government tertiary student loan schemes to parents and guardians who must be involved in agriculture;
- Put price stabilization facility to ensure our people earn respectable income for their investments in agriculture;
- Migrate family agri-business into SMEs, migrate SMEs into bigger business and ensure that agriculture has finished products (secondary industry) of world standard that is exported; and
- Amongst other things we will do, increase our support to research and science and study facilities to provide data, statistics and studies for further improvement in agriculture and economy or our country in general.
“The challenges before us as a nation remain so big and against a backdrop of growing population above 3 percent every year, with dilapidated infrastructures and non-expanded economic base, where revenue remains small against growing expenditure demands.”