Agriculture and Livestock Minister John Simon met with China Railway International (CRI) and Chinese Embassy officials on the ambitious US$600 million (K2.03 billion) Papua New Guinea-China Integrated Agriculture Industrial Park Project (PNG-CIAIPP) last Thursday. The National’s senior writer MALUM NALU was there to get the updates.
JOHN Simon says development work on the US$600 million (K2.03 billion) PNG-CIAIPP in Eastern Highlands’ Korofeigu and Western Highlands’ Highlands Agriculture Training Institute (HATI) is likely to be launched in October.
He told The National that the proposed project paper would be submitted in September for Prime Minister James Marape’s approval in October. Simon said this after a meeting with China Railway International (CRI) officials, the PNG-CIAIPP investors, in Port Moresby on Thursday.
“It is a private investment project that will benefit Papua New Guineans and the country. It is not a loan, it is not going to cost the PNG Government anything.
“It is a mega investment that the company will commit in PNG. All they want from us is to provide them with land and they can export our agriculture produce.
“We have no problem with that because it will mean reliable and sustainable income for both farmers and PNG,” he added.
Simon said there was huge demand in China for organic agriculture produce which PNG-CIAIPP would process and pack for exports.
“We have engaged National Agriculture Sector Plan 2019-2028 team leader, Valentine Kambori, a former Director-General of National Agriculture Research Institute and Secretary for National Planning and Monitoring, to fast track the project proposal and paper.
“Then I will take to the Cabinet by August or September, so that the agreement can be approved and signed by Marape in October to kick off PNG-CIAIPP,” Simon said.
“We are working according to schedule, and the investors have been told that the project would be limited to State land.
“We will give them State land to set up their offices and godowns for shipping agriculture produce and products to China. My advice to them is to go into a partnership with the local people to help develop Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and micro SMEs.
“They (CRI) have also been told that only 3% of the land in PNG is owned by the State. So, they should go into partnership with local landowners for future operation expansion plans,” he added.
On reviving PNG’s livestock industry, Simon said the first heads of cattle would be brought in from Cairns, Australia, by September.
“We are looking at bringing in more than 20,000 cattle, 5,000 every month. We are also planning to import 10,000 goats and 10,000 sheep as well.
“This is our bid to revive the Agriculture and Livestock Industry, which is now cynically dubbed by critics as ‘Agriculture and Deadstock’.
“After September, we should have enough livestock to distribute to budding entrepreneurs to get the livestock industry kicking and rise to our past heydays.
“Farmers can then start breeding in ranches and in their residential surroundings for meat consumption and sale,” he added.Waii … we are here to create wealth for the people of PNG
PNG-CIAIPP team leader Brian “Mushroom” Waii says the Government, through Simon, wants the project to begin as soon as possible.
“A directive, in no uncertain terms (from Simon), was that this project must be expedited,” Waii said.
“This includes getting the National Executive Council (NEC) approval, then we will progress immediately to the next stage, that is mobilising development operations.
“It is also heartening to note that Simon, and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) acting secretary Daniel Kombuk, are fast-tracking the proposed project.
“It gives us much confidence that a veteran of agriculture, and a former secretary for National Planning Valentine Kambori and Director-General of National Agriculture Research Institute, Valentine Kambori, are working closely with the minister on the official approval of the project.
“The important thing, moving forward, is to start rolling out the project strategy and implementation in the provinces. There’ll be slight changes from the initial plan, but all in all, the focus of development is still the same,” he said.
“We are here to create wealth for the people of PNG,” he added.
Waii said the delay since November 2017, when the project was initially signed in Port Moresby, did not deter the investor, CRI.
“That shows CRI is genuine in wanting the PNG-CIAIPP to succeed for the benefit of all. CRI is a genuine and determined investor.
“In most cases, when an investor is here to spend its own money to develop an important sector like agriculture, delays would dissuade them.
“They then to pull out and go elsewhere. In this case, CRI has demonstrated its genuineness by remaining committed to the project potential,” he added.
Left: Brian “Mushroom” Waii
Waii said the project could not come at a better time, especially with the formation of a new Government, and the focus of Marape on agriculture to drive the economy.
“The way forward is that as soon as NEC gives the approval, we can start construction work on the parks, and also subsidiary parks nationwide.
“The subsidiary parks will be located in areas with high value crops. CRI is prepared to stay here for the long haul, whether it be for 99 years or 1,000 years.
“This is not like any civil construction work, where the contractor leaves after completion of the project. This is a long-term agriculture project.
“We will now work closely with the DAL and technical adviser Kambori to expedite the project, and complete the NEC submission and required protocol.
“We hope that the government will provide suitable land and policy environment for us. We will provide all the technical expertise, all the planning and design, and most importantly, the financing,” he added.