By CLARISSA MOI
THE rural farmers of East and West Sepik will benefit from a K340 million (€85 million) support grant from the European Union for agriculture development in the area.
Prime Minister James Marape, while acknowledging the European Union (EU) for the support during the launch of the grant to the greater Sepik region programme in Wewak yesterday, said this would extend to other parts of the country.
“The K340 million to the country is not easy and I thank the EU ambassador, Ioannis Giokrakis Argyropoulus, and (his) staff for working very hard to ensure we received this grant,” he said.
“This is the first of its kind and it’s coming into the East and West Sepik and will extend to Madang, Morobe, Western and other parts of the country – places where agriculture can grow well.”
The prime minister said cocoa production would benefit from the grant and vanilla, coffee, copra, palm oil, livestock and the rest of the agriculture sector would follow.
He acknowledged the former O’Neill-government for the input in securing the grant.
Argyropoulus said it was an investment for the benefit of all the people of PNG.
He said the grant was money from 500 million citizens of Europe and was one of the largest and biggest investments not only in PNG but the Pacific region.
Opposition Leader and Aitape-Lumi MP Patrick Pruaitch said the EU’s recognition of the agriculture potential of the Sepik region was a strategic helping hand.
“The agriculture sector has been and will continue to be the backbone of our developing economy and our society as it accounts for up to 40 per cent of gross domestic products (GDP),” he said.
“The resource sector driven primarily by mining and petroleum, currently brings in a greater portion of our export earnings but can we agree that agriculture is still and will continue to be the main source of employment, disposable income and livelihoods for most of our people.”
Pruaitch thanked the EU for the generous and timely support to the people of Sepik and the country.
East Sepik Governor Allan Bird also acknowledged EU’s support and asked the people of Sepik region to work towards ensuring the programme bore fruit.
By CLARISSA MOI