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Agriculture summit must focus on PNG farmers not outsiders

EDDIE TANAGO | Act Now Farmers need support - not foreign owned agri-businesses (Oxfam)

PORT MORESBY - Papua New Guinea's first national agriculture summit should be focused on helping the country’s three million rural farmers and not on assisting large foreign owned industries to grab more customary land.

The summit, planned for 13-16 November, was announced last week by Agriculture Minister Benny Allan. It will have the theme of 'Unlocking the economic power of agriculture to sustainably grow our economy’.

The government needs to focus its resources on better extension services for rural farmers and the improved infrastructure they need.

This is because farmers, and the customary land that supports them, drive a K40 billion economy that is far larger than the foreign owned export economy the government obsesses over.

Despite the size of this rural economy, and the fact it supports seven million people, the last national agriculture survey was done in 1963. Extension services are almost non-existent and the transport infrastructure is a disgrace.

The agriculture summit must not be used to promote the expansion of industrial agriculture which is driven by outsiders who want to disposes local farmers and exploit workers.

Our experience as a nation is that we have all seen the serious negative impacts of the recent SABL land grab and illegal logging and the damage the oil palm industry does.

It is of great concern to see the former Lands Minister, who oversaw five years of government inaction on the illegal SABL land grab, associated illegal logging and the unlawful encroachment of oil palm onto customary land is now the Minister in charge of agriculture.

The impending climate crisis, our population explosion and lifestyle disease epidemic that can all cause so much suffering can be mitigated if the government supports rural farmers to stay in control of customary land.

If the government wants to unlock the power of agriculture to grow the economy it must do so by supporting rural farmers and ensuring they are not displaced from their land by outsiders.

Mr Allan must not be allowed to use agriculture as an excuse to grab more land on behalf of foreign companies and destroy more livelihoods.


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Moses Pala

I am a livelihood skills trainer based on agribusiness. I'm from Western Highlands and am very happy to receive Chinese 300 million helping WHP and EHP.

But who is going to benefit, the farmers, the government or the Chinese? The Chinese are looking for opportunities for business on this planet earth.

My suggestion is that the Chinese can go for market and the farmers will do the production.

We cannot be used as cheap labour in our own land.
The Chinese will dominate our land and market and divert the money to their own country.

Please highest political body, do not let the Chinese destroy our market.

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