Minister working on plan to assist businesses in agriculture sector


AGRICULTURE and Livestock Minister and Maprik MP John Simon is working on a “rescue plan” for businesses in the Agriculture and Livestock sector who have been impacted by the Covid-19.
The minister, in a statement, said the rescue plan would be tabled before Parliament to identify solutions as to how to address the issue. This decision comes after a recent visit to Lae, Morobe, which revealed that major businesses in the agriculture and livestock sector were being seriously affected by the Covid-19-enforced lockdown.
Simon, accompanied by vice-minister and Daulo MP Pogio Ghate and a team from his office and National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (Naqia) officers in Lae last weekend visited some of the business houses and discovered firsthand the economic strain caused by the Covid-19 on their businesses.
Simon said his office would ensure that their plight was immediately addressed as products such as poultry were as important as any other livestock. It was discovered that the poultry industry in the country was in danger of going out of business if immediate measures were not taken.
The country’s major poultry meat suppliers, Zenag Chickens and Mainland Holdings, have about 3,000 tonnes of frozen chicken in storage and might not be able to sell them.
Zenag Chicken normally ships out more than 200,000 frozen chicken products weekly, however, they had been able to maintain that level during the SOE.
Zenag Chicken managing director Philip Leahy said the pandemic had seriously affected business.
He said the company had lost about 50 per cent of its sales and this had caused a significant decline in the company’s revenue.