The National, Monday July 15th, 2013
HALF of the 6,000 oil palm growers in Northern have not been able to harvest their fruit regularly because of bad road conditions, Popondetta Oil Palm Growers Association chairman Dickson Daima says.
Daima said this when he addressed more than 6,000 oil palm growers at a meeting in Popondetta recently.
The meeting was focused on the road maintenance trust fund, oil palm growers’ price formula review, government subsidy to Oil Palm Industry Corporation (Opic) and the collection of export levy to support the farmers.
“Our roads are a concern to the farmers … 20% of our farmers have not harvested for more than 12 months while 30% are harvesting only half of the year … that means only 50% of the 6,000 growers have been harvesting their fruits regularly,” Daima said.
“Our farmers depend on their oil palm block fruit sales to pay for fees, medical fees, transport needs, build better homes and to enjoy life, but unfortunately this is the opposite … most families struggling to raise their standard of living while others are living in poverty.”
Daima said: “Issues such as road maintenance trust fund, government subsidy to Opic and the collection of export levies to support the farmers are very important national issues that would need the Opic board deliberation and directions to the Department of Agriculture and Livestock Minister and to the National Executive Council (NEC) for approval.”
He thanked Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and NEC for his appointment to the Opic board.
Daima thanked the Northern Governor Gary Juffa and West New Britain Governor Sasindran Muthuvel for taking up oil palm growers issues with the agriculture minister, the national planning minister and the prime minister.
“The agriculture sector continues to contribute substantially to the national economy after mining, oil and gas and palm oil continues to be the biggest in the agriculture sector, accounting for at least 62% of agriculture commodity exports.
Daima called on the national government to make available in the coming months emergency funding of K10.2 million for oil palm roads in Northern.
He had asked if the government could approve the Oil Palm Industry Corp project submission of K72 million road maintenance funding for West New Britain and Northern in next year’s budget.