Farmers’ constraints hindering growth


An economist says past government predictions of major production increases largely fell far short, owing to a failure to identify and address the constraints faced by the farmers and traders.
Institute of National Affairs Executive Director, Paul Barker said addressing the constraints required a recognition of the core role of the farmer or investor, and private players such as processors and traders.
“Farmers and traders are often unable to access suitable planting material, markets, finance and technical support.”
He said the role of government, in providing public infrastructure and services, including security, needed to set the right market conditions for competitive trading.
“PNG farmers are eager to take up opportunities for themselves and their families, but often need the know-how, especially with newer crops, to deliver their produce to markets.
“They also need security for their products and related supportive conditions, which have widely been lacking.
“Some land is highly productive,but other land requires greater private or publicly provided input, such as irrigation to develop its potential.
“But for progress, it requires that national and subnational agencies (including districts) work in better coordination with the farmers, and utilise their limited resources prudently.”
He said under these circumstances where the Government actually assisted rather than handicapping farmers, production for export and the domestic market, could certainly grow by 25 per cent or more.
Barker said while recognising that this increased production was needed both to meet growing demand for food, cash income and formal and informal employment in rural areas, some parts of the country were already facing high population densities on their land and constraints to further intensification of cultivation.
“So new technologies, planting cycles and production systems will need to be developed and applied to ensure sustainable production and to meet the ongoing needs.
“Also addressing the high population growth rate, than is placing undue strain on government’s capacity to provide expanded services, but also to generate necessary levels of increased employment and agricultural production,” he said

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