Papua New Guinea’s agriculture is naturally organic. And the global demand for organic food is a fast growing industry that is today estimated to be worth US$1 trillion (K3.38 trillion). The National’s senior writer MALUM NALU talks to stakeholders on the need to add value to agriculture produce.
THE American Medical Association had in 2018 published a study drawing a strong correlation between eating organic foods and reducing the risk of cancer.
The study, conducted by government scientists in France – tracked the eating habits of nearly 69,000 people over four years, focusing on 16 organic products that include fruits, vegetables, eggs, grains, dairy, soy-based food, fish, meat and beverages.
They found that people who ate the most organic foods had a 25% decrease in the likelihood of developing cancer, including postmenopausal breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and all lymphomas.
The UK’s Department for Agriculture and Rural Affairs defines organic food as:
Food that is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides; growth regulators and livestock feed additives. Irradiation and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or products produced from or by GMOs are generally prohibited by organic legislation.
Whatever the case or facts may be, organic food is growing in popularity daily, and is today a K3.38 trillion world economy.
And, China is today one of the top four organic markets in the world with the US and Germany as major importers of organic food.
Minape … there’s high demand in the international market for organic food
Lae agriculture-related businessman Mathew Minape says it is long overdue for Papua New Guinea (PNG) to implement aggressive measures and projects to tap the international demand and market for fresh produce.
Minape, an advocate for rural development in the country who has travelled all over the world, said this after reading a series of Special News Reports’ articles (K2.03 billion agri-park boost for farmers) published by The National on May 8.
He lauded those in agriculture authority who were now planning to enhance the supply chain infrastructure to help farmers transport their fresh produce to markets faster and more efficiently.
“I have business contacts in China who want and are willing to import fresh produce from PNG on a large scale.
“PNG is sitting on a big potential revenue earner in organic and fresh vegetable industry. We should seriously look at supporting our farmers to develop the industry,” he added.
“Countries like China, Japan, the US, Singapore, the UK and Dubai have high demands for organic food.
“Singapore has no land for agriculture and they import everything from neighbouring Indonesia. PNG is capable of producing and supplying them.
“The Government, through the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, should look seriously into helping and motivating the farmers to raise production,” he said.
Minape said all 89 districts in the country already had access to finance from district development authorities (DDAs).
He said these DDAs should support fresh produce farmers as well as coastal fishermen by building cold storage facilities.
“Our people in the rural villages depend on cash crops and fishing for income. If the Government has a good policy in place to help our people, who have long been suffering, we can export their produce.
“Why don’t we tap into this market for the good of our small people? By doing so, we can directly help six to seven million people in this country who still depend on farming for a living.
“Everything that we cultivate can be exported. I see no reason why DDAs should hesitate in investing into building cold storage facilities and airstrips.
“If all our 89 MPs (Members of Parliament) do that, we will help our small people to access the markets, both domestic and foreign.
“They will then have a steady and more rewarding income. This will help alleviate many of the socio-economic woes that the people and country are facing,” Minape said.
Minape proposed that each village should specialise in one particular crop that best suits the land.
“One village can specialise in growing carrots, another in cucumbers, and another in beans. This way, we can produce so many different fruits and vegetables, and sell them all year round.
“We can basically export our fresh produce daily if we specialise. The Government should set up a big marketing network, using the Internet, to help our farmers sell their fresh and organic produce.
‘All produce should be bought by the Government directly from the farmers. This means they will get paid immediately without worrying about storage and transport.
“It means we are empowering our farmers with the Government and MPs building the necessary supporting infrastructure like roads to efficiently network supply to international markets.
“The generation of income and government revenue will then help to improve health services, schools and maintaining law-and-order. In short, the Government will have the revenue to implement measures and projects to alleviate socio-economic woes.
“Cash crops, such as fresh vegetables, should be the focus of all MPs because we all own land. Likewise, in coastal areas, focus should be on fishing.
“In that way, money will go down to everyone, unlike now when everyone is finding it hard to sell their cash crops. The bad and deteriorating road conditions have compounded the problems of farmers,” he added.