Agri-park awaits nod


By Malum Nalu
THE US$600 million (K2.03 billion) PNG-China Integrated Agriculture Park project is now pending Cabinet approval, Acting Agriculture and Livestock Secretary Daniel Kombuk, pictured, says.
“We are seeking National Executive Council approval for the park,” he told The National yesterday.
Kombuk also welcomed the operation of the US$14 million (K47 million) French fries (potato chips) factory in Southern Highlands, Pangia.
Describing the factory as a game changer in the downstream food processing chain in the country, Kombuk gave an update on the agriculture sector and industry in light of the focus by Prime Minister James Marape.
“The agriculture park is crucial to fast track PNG’s agriculture industry transformation into a vibrant and international revenue earner.
“This project will not only sustain our rural farmers, it will also lift their earnings in the sale of their horticultural produce, coffee and others.
“China is trying to buy our organically-grown horticultural produce to feed its population. This is going to create a huge market demand and economic opportunities.
“China Railway International (CRI) will launch development for the project at Korofeigu, Eastern Highlands and Highlands Agriculture Training Institute in Western Highlands, and then proceed to Sepik Plains, Morobe, East and West New Britain, New Ireland, Central and Gulf.
“They will provide a lot of incentives that will lift the socio-economic livelihood of our people and boost our gross domestic product (GDP).”
Kombuk also welcomed the Highlands Agriculture Industrial Centre (AIC) in Pangia, a modern mechanised frozen fruits and vegetables facility, equipped with an automated Individually Quick Freezing (IQF) processing line, the first of its kind in PNG and the Pacific region.
The AIC is a 50:50 joint investment of the Southern Highlands government and Innovative Agro Industry Ltd (IAI), backed by funding provided by Israel’s Export Credit Agency and Israel’s IDB bank.