Minister calls for unlocking of land for agro development


CUSTOMARY landowners have been urged to unlock their land and let it be utilised for agriculture development.
The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Benny Allan, said there were large masses of suitable land in many provinces that remained undeveloped and called on landowners to participate in major agriculture activities.
Minister Allan urged customary landowners to talk to relevant government agencies on how best their land can be utilised for agriculture development to grow crops such as rice, cocoa, coffee, rubber, oil palm, spices, other fresh produce and also to raise livestock.
Speaking at a ground breaking ceremony for a rice demonstration project at the Pacific Adventist University last week, Allan said there was potential for major agriculture projects, however, the customary landowners should unlock their land and make it available for investment.
He said Apec 2018 would create opportunities for investors to come in and participate in agriculture development and this was evident with the rice demo project.
Allan, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel, Central Governor Robert Agarobe and Philippines ambassador Dr Bien Tejano, were among dignitaries who witnessed the ground breaking ceremony.
The project is the result of discussions held between Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte last year which resulted in the signing of a joint declaration early this year for agriculture technical cooperation.
Allan said the Government of  PNG and Philippines have created the opportunity for agriculture technical cooperation and the onus was on PNG to provide and make land available for rice development.
He said the demo farm would enable the establishment of a model seed farm as a supply source for smallholder and commercial farms in Central. The surplus could be sold at reduced prices.
“We are serious about growing rice in PNG. Let’s work together and grow rice,” he said.
Allan said rice farming projects would create employment opportunities, while simultaneously reducing rice imports. PNG could also export rice to other countries like the Philippines.
He said with the technical expertise provided by the Philippines government, and assistance from several private organisations, and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, the demo farm should be a successful venture and would be prepared in time to showcase rice farming to Apec delegates come November.

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