Agriculture vital for progress

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011

THE agriculture sector must be seriously targeted for development if Papua New Guinea is to prosper and become a developed nation, the head of the National Agricultural Research Institute says.
Institute director-general Dr Raghunath Ghodake told people at its fifth Agricultural Innovations Show last Thursday the agriculture sector “is the most important in the country because of the dependence of the vast majority of our population on agriculture and its tremendous untapped but realised potential”.
He said handled properly,  agriculture would bring prosperity and sustainable development to the country.
He said the mineral and petroleum sector was largely seen as the government’s priority ahead the agriculture sector with its deteriorating infrastructure and programmes nationwide.
“We have been blessed with the revenue boom from non-renewable resource projects such as the LNG,” he said.
“Investing in innovative agriculture is important in harnessing the sector’s untapped potential and growth, some of which were featured in exhibition stalls during the innovation show,” he said.
He said the show was the first of its kind to recognise and value the innovative ways, methods and products agriculture could offer the country.
NARI council chairman Dr John Kola warned that despite the development of technology in the agriculture sector, “the country’s mission for agricultural research will remain unaccomplished unless the desired developments have benefited the lives of most ordinary Papua New Guineans”. 
He said bringing in the desired results for the people had been at the forefront of the NARI’s research.
He said they aimed to assure food security, full employment and productivity and improved welfare and prosperity for the masses.
He hailed during the institution’s 14-year lifespan 36 improved technologies had been developed and released to farmers as well as its expanding recognition in the Pacific region as “an organisation of high relevance” in the agriculture sector.
“I would like to take this opportunity to put on record our sincere appreciation to our donors, collaborators and partners for their support.
“We are grateful to the PNG government for its ever increasing recurrent and development funding and policy support,” Ghodake said.
Over 30 organisations, development partners, farmers joined Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Paru Aihi and Morobe Governor Luther Wenge at the NARI 11-Mile farming estate in Lae for the show.