No govt funding for rubber, says report

National

By HELEN TARAWA
THE Government does not provide appropriate funding for smallholder rubber and other cash crop projects in Papua New Guinea, a Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC) report has revealed.
The report said the immediate effect of the Government’s expropriation of the Western people’s 63.4 per cent shareholding in Ok Tedi Mining Ltd was to terminate the K44 million funding provided by PNG Sustainable Development Program to help 2,800 families to plant their rubber trees.
It said the PNGSDP funding would have built a second factory on Sturt Island to process rubber from growers in the Middle and South Fly districts.
The report revealed that 10 years ago when Keith Faulkner was the managing director of OTML, he agreed that the mining company would help North Fly Rubber Ltd (NFRL) to assume responsibility of revitalising the Cape Rodney project and convert it to a growers’ cooperative based on the NFRL model and solely owned by the settlers.
This would have included the building of a new rubber factory and replanting with high yielding clones.
“Unfortunately, without the assistance of (NFRL) and possibly of the new owners of Galley Reach Holdings, the Cape Rodney rubber project is doomed to either collapse or be given away by the Government to its next lot of foreign cronies,” the report said.
It said the PNG Rubber Board had highlighted lack of funding as a major constraint to the industry.
The report said the rubber board did not get any Government support despite its being an important industry sustaining small farmers in rural areas.
It added that rubber, unlike other crops, was non-seasonal and less intensive with production beginning after five to six years of tree growth.

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