Government on the roll to improve food sustainability

Business

THE Government has stepped up its drive to improve food sustainability and reduce foreign exchange outflows, according to a recent report.
Oxford Business group in its recent economic update noted that government’s plans to place investment funds, to be dispersed through the supplementary budget, with the state-owned agriculture investment company
Kumul Agriculture, which can partner with local and international investors.
Deputy Prime and Treasury Minister Charles Abel noted that the rice import bill was the second-highest consumer of foreign exchange in PNG after the fuel import bill.
Bank of PNG Governor Loi Bakani also highlighted import costs as being a top concern.
“In particular, I am concerned about food imports, because it constitutes the highest demand for foreign exchange and it is not matched by any foreign exchange revenue from food exports,” he told an investment conference in Sydney, Australia, in mid-September.
In addition to boosting primary production, Papua New Guinea is seeking investors in downstream value-added processing, which could create export potential.
Palm oil, coffee and other processed goods have been cited as products easier to freight and able to generate higher returns than fresh produce.
“We have water and fertile land,” Maru said.
“What we have to do now is to mobilise the land and find potential investors who have the technology and the capital to start investment in commercial agriculture in a significant way.”
The agro-processing industry is already seeing an increase in investments that should help reduce food import bill and improve sustainability.
Agri-business firm Innovative Agro Industries is currently developing a K130 million dairy farm and processing facility outside Port Moresby, with production set to begin this month.
When fully operational next year, the five-million-litre annual output from the plant is expected to cut up to K400 million, or 10 per cent from Papua New Guinea’s import bill.

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