Secretary welcomes increase in agriculture allocation

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Agriculture and Livestock Secretary Dr Vele Ila’ava has welcomed the Government’s increased focus on agriculture in the 2018 Budget.
Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel announced in the 2018 Budget that agriculture was the biggest winner.
The sector has seen the biggest increase from K385.7 million in the 2017 supplementary budget to K665.9 million or a 72 per cent increase.
Much of the increase is captured in the capital component, with an increase of over 140 per cent.
This includes support for the Productive Partnership in Agriculture Programme, national cattle breeding farm, freight subsidy for cocoa and coffee, strategic defence against coffee berry borer and the regional nurseries project.
An agriculture commercialisation fund is established at K100 million, and further funding provided to the National Development Bank of K100 million for small and medium enterprises (SME) lending.
The People’s Microbank receives K20 million.
Fifty million kina (K50 million) is provided for industrial centre development, particularly to support SME incubation centres.
“I’m very happy with the budget outcome so far,” Ila’ava told The National.
“I’d like to thank the O’Neill-Abel Government for coming good on their Alotau Accord II commitment which is to make agriculture our No 1 economic priority.
“I’m happy that they have transferred that into the budget.
“Having a quick look at the budget papers, and listening to the ministers (Abel and National Planning’s Richard Maru), most commodity boards have got double their public investment programme (PIP) funding.
“That’s welcome news.
“Some of the commodity boards that were not funded are now being funded, like the Livestock Development Corporation and the Rubber Board.
“The challenge is now on us in the agriculture sector to get ourselves organised and work with the Government to grow the economy of this country.”

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