Agriculture key to economic growth

Editorial

MORE than 80 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s population live in the rural areas and practise subsistence agriculture.
As a result, most people depend on the country’s forests and rivers for food and basic needs.
In their gardens they grow a range of crops like spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, broad beans, cucumbers and sugar cane, while yam, taro, banana and sweet potato are the staple crops.
However, in PNG, the biggest challenge is how to access these farmers or growers so value can be added to the produce they have. To make this a reality, the government must invest to revive this important sector.
Enough talking – let’s get down to business.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Benny Allan said most Papua New Guineans depend on agriculture and to bail the country out of its financial and social problems, we need to make real investments in this sector.
And one province that has its eyes set on agriculture is Central, which is under the governorship of Robert Agarobe.
This week, at the induction of Central assembly members, he said agriculture would be the province’s number one priority as he looks at ways to transition from subsistence to commercial farming.
Government technical advisers and field extension officers will work with farmers to improve crop selection and develop their farms. District government officers will travel to villages to buy the produce, transport them to warehouses for sorting and quality control before sending them to Port Moresby for sale.
Agarobe says that with the market brought back to the village, the local economy will be stimulated, and the government will be encouraged to commit funds to build roads, bridges, airports and wharves in the province.
Imagine what will happen if all governors took Agarobe’s approach and worked with the national government to see that roads, markets, financing and technical and professional assistance were improved.
Strengthening agriculture can produce positive effects in the country’s economy and investment in agricultural development can help reduce poverty as has been seen elsewhere in the world.
Agriculture has been at the centre of economic progress for many developing nations and there is a clear recognition of how strengthening agriculture and food systems has resulted in more affordable, healthier and diverse food options.

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