Innovative development for PNG

Nari, Normal

The National, Tuesday, May 10, 2011

INNOVATIONS and innovative thinking was the order of the day at the Agricultural Innovations Show staged by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) last Thursday at the Sir Alkan Tololo Research Centre, 10-Mile Bubia, outside Lae.
This was the fifth innovations show, with the first in 2007. Since then, the show had got bigger and better every year with the quality of innovations and participation.
The event also marked the 14th anniversary of NARI.
The event was organised around the theme “investing in innovative agriculture for prosperity”. This was to create awareness among stakeholders and influence the enabling policy environment so that the crucial importance of innovative agriculture was appreciated with good policy decisions made to support investment in innovative agriculture.
Agriculture is the most important sector in the PNG economy.
This is not only because of the dependence of the vast majority of our population on agriculture but also because of the sector’s tremendous untapped and realisable potential. This potential was to assure food security, improve cash incomes and provide comfortable livelihoods. 
It would also bring total prosperity and sustainable development in PNG. 
NARI considered agriculture to be the centre of the development agenda in PNG.  This is because of its renewable nature with both comparative and absolute advantage, especially in emerging worldwide trends of niche markets. It was also an assured way to self-reliance and long-term sustainability.
NARI was confident that investing in agriculture could lead to managing law and order; take care of health; help educate children; bring in peace and harmony; manage and sustain environment and its integrity; and lead to overall prosperity for PNG.
As such, the agriculture sector should and must be targeted for development if the nation was to prosper and become a developed nation.
For agriculture development to take place, research and innovations must be established. Thus, the theme of “investing in innovative agriculture for prosperity in PNG” was timely and appropriate.
It was an ideal time to focus on the issue of investment for tomorrow. 
The PNG Vision 2050 clearly outlined the destination.
PNG has both the comparative and absolute advantages in its resource-rich agriculture. The untapped and realisable potential in agricultural growth could be harnessed through agricultural research and innovative development. And, more importantly, PNG had been blessed with a revenue boom from the non-renewable resource projects such as LNG. 
Thus, investing in innovative agriculture was akin to designing fishing net, much needed and superior intervention than giving a fish or fishing net.
It was important to have appropriate technologies based on scientific research and knowledge creation. These were crucial for dynamic national capacity and empowered communities for long-term sustainability.  
The keynote address by the Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Paru Aihi, was fitting.
The minister reaffirmed that agriculture had been, and still is, the economic backbone of our nation, although the non-renewable sector comprising oil, gas, mineral and petroleum industries had become leading contributors to the GDP in recent times.
Aihi emphasised that it was essential that innovative agricultural development was accepted as the way forward towards a prosperous PNG and, investing in innovative agriculture, was the key and a definite assurance of socio-economic development.
He also highlighted that El Nino drought preparedness, rice development, livestock research and development and post-harvest and downstream processing were some key areas that needed investment.
This, we thought, was the way forward and the minister’s assurance to provide the political leadership required on this agenda was welcomed.
The show had demonstrations and displays of materials and technologies.
NARI also released three improved technologies to the farming community. 
A ground-breaking ceremony was also held to officially launch the construction of the national biotechnology centre.
The show was unique and was the first of a kind to recognise and value the importance of innovative agricultural development. 
Research and development organisations, extensions providers, the private sector, NGOs, women’s groups, businesses, innovative farmers and rural communities had the opportunity to display their inventions or innovations. More than 30 such organisations were there, displaying their innovative ways, methods and approaches.
NARI would like to thank all participating organisations and individuals for joining hands in this great endeavour. More than 7,000 people from all walks of life participated in the event.
NARI had and would continue to create the opportunity for agricultural stakeholders and participantsto see, feel and experience these innovations.
By doing this, we all could promote innovative agricultural development in PNG.