PM: Focus on food production

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PRIME Minister James Marape, pictured, wants Papua New Guinea to be known as a food-producing and exporting nation by 2025 and not an oil, gold and gas-producing country.
The prime minister met with senior management staff of the Agriculture Department and various commodity boards in Port Moresby yesterday to outline his Government expectations and visions for the agriculture sector.
Marape said Indonesia had a population of around 260 million and was the second-largest market in Asia apart from China and the Philippines had more than 100 million people.
“PNG is strategically placed in the Pacific where it can become the food bowl of the Pacific and Asia,” he said.
Marape said his Government planned to phase out rice imports by 2025 and the task was now on the Agriculture Department to make it happen. By 2022, half the imports of rice per year into the country must stop,” he said.
“Rice can grow in six months. How can we not grow and produce rice?
“By 2022, we must produce half of what we import today and how can we make that happen?
“The answers lie with you, the department and officers.
“By 2025, when the nation celebrates 50 years of nationhood, we must stop the imports of rice and rice must be locally grown.
“In terms of beef, how can we flood the plains of Markham, Ramu, Western and East and West Sepik with beef and export to countries like Indonesia where they have consumed beef their entire lives.
“How can we supply a nation that consumes beef which is very close to our doorsteps?
“Papua New Guinea is strategically placed in a region where there is demand for our agricultural products.
“Nations don’t eat gold, oil and gas, they eat food every day, drink coffee every day and we must become the food basket of the region we live in. We have been sitting on a sector and resources that create more money that has not been fully capitalised and utilised by the governments of past and I will not blame them.
“By 2025, I want to make sure when we celebrate 50 years of independence, we are a food-producing nation for the region around us.
“No more import of rice, cattle and sheep and we must start to export food and our agriculture sector in a much bigger way.”

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