Milne Bay eyes agriculture


Milne Bay is putting increasing emphasis on agriculture for its people to make money, Governor Titus Philemon says.
He said this included agriculture-based small and medium enterprises who were receiving support from his government.
The province is the largest maritime province with a sea area of 252,990 sq km and landmass of 16,202 sq km.
Milne Bay has four districts with three – Samarai-Murua, Esa’ala and Kiriwina-Goodenough – in the islands and only Alotau on the mainland.
The province’s population is about 250,000 people who speak 48 different languages.
“The province’s economy is mostly subsistence but agricultural exports of copra, coffee, cocoa and oil palm are now increasing,” Philemon said.
“Mineral exports once drove the economy but since the closure of the Misima mine, this has faded.
“My government, together with our national MPs, has been pushing agriculture-based development as a priority over the past few years, especially in our rural areas through SMEs and plantation farming and production.
“To encourage our people to return to the faithful coconut, we are currently providing commodity subsidies for copra as well as for coffee and cocoa.”
Philemon said Milne Bay had in place an SME programme where the provincial government – through the provincial services improvement programme (PSIP) – had allocated K4 million for SME rollout in the 16 local level government areas.
“So far, we have given K100,000 each to the 16 LLGs to run their SME programmes, where small amounts of funding assistance is given to people who wish to run small businesses in their communities,” he said.
“The SME programme supports the provincial government’s shift in economic development focus to put money in people’s pockets.
“I am pleased to say this initiative has been strongly supported by the LLGs, who have had their budgets cut by the national government, and the people in the rural areas of the province.
“I am also pleased to note that many of these small businesses are agriculture-based.
“We are also implementing many programmes and projects aimed at improving our household incomes.”

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