The National, Friday, April 29, 2011
Recently, Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru and representatives of an Israeli company went on a tour of the province.
A working relationship with the Israeli firm is being developed with the aim to tap into the agriculture sector to boost food production.
Agiru was quoted as saying that the firm would provide technical assistance in the project.
On the other side of PNG, Morobe Governor Luther Wenge said on TV that Australian scientists had discouraged the planting of rice and sugarcane in Papua New Guinea.
Wenge claimed that in the pre-independence years, Australian experts advised against large-scale production of rice and sugar.
But many Papua New Guineans are now planting rice and they have dispelled the notion that rice cannot be planted here.
Both stories highlight the importance of PNG sourcing for expertise elsewhere in agriculture research and development.
Self-reliance in domestic food production can be addressed through assistance from countries that have proven track records in revolutionising their agricultural production and development.
The challenges of a growing population and inflationary pressures on basic consumer items must lead to serious thinking about our bilateral cooperation in the agriculture sector.
One will find that increased local food production and a sustained programme of encouraging urban-based Papua New Guineans to “go local” in their consumption patterns can address the rising costs of basic food items.
Increased local production offers cheaper alternatives for Papua New Guineans who cannot afford expensive imported foodstuff.
Fiji has a strong domestic food production sector that has contributed to a variety of foodstuff that is available to its consumers.
In the area of technical assistance, Israel is a world leader in ground-breaking agricultural food production.
Their expertise must be tapped and bilateral relationship with Israel must be pursued.
Another country that PNG must look to is Vietnam.
As a leading coffee exporter in the world market, Vietnam can be a significant partner in PNG’s coffee industry.
The time is right to extend our scope beyond Australia.
We must expand our bilateral agriculture relationships with other countries.