AGRICULTURE Minister John Hickey yesterday told Parliament that National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP) funds are not with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and that no NADP funds have been disbursed to the department since 2007.
Mr Hickey was responding to questions from Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Joe Mek Teine, who asked where the NADP funds were as the coffee industry was in dire need of funds.
Mr Teine also asked why the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) had been without a full board since 2007.
“Coffee is the biggest commodity and has been left to run without a full board. There is no leadership in the industry and it is suffering,” he said.
Mr Hickey responded: “NADP funds are no longer with the Department of Agriculture, in fact, NADP has not received any funds since 2007.
“To my knowledge, there are several millions of kina left, and we have watched and guarded that money carefully, despite constant allegations of misuse by myself and my department.”
It was understood that since 2007, the NADP has been working using funds disbursed in 2006-07 and that K100 million earmarked for agriculture this year has been diverted to the public investment programme.
Regarding the CIC board, Mr Hickey confirmed that a full board needed to be appointed, and blamed the Department of Personnel Management and the Public Service Commission for not ensuring that this was done.
He then agreed that the coffee industry required more funds and that the K6 million or so allocated at present was insufficient.
“This is insufficient. We need 10 times that amount and I totally agree that more money needs to be given to the coffee industry,” Mr Hickey said.
He went on to praise coffee farmers for their efforts in keeping the industry progressing despite the hardships and that the industry was faring well and that our coffee still had high regard globally.