Rice deal signed

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Papua New Guinea and the Philippines have signed an agreement that paves the way for a partnership in the production and commercialisation of rice in the country.
The agreement was signed between the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Benny Allen and the Philippines Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol at a rice model farm at the Pacific Adventist University (PAU) outside Port Moresby on Friday.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte were also expected to witness the agreement but did not attend because O’Neill was in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
However, the programme went ahead. The signing of the agreement followed on from an initial discussion between the leaders of the two countries during a recent Apec meeting in Vietnam, and a state visit by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to the Philippines this year.
After initial discussions, 19 technical officers from the Philippines started the initial rice modelling research station at PAU.
Now investors from the Philippines are ready to invest in rice farming in PNG, Pinol said.
“This is a good project to set the tune for rice production and commercialisation despite the analogy that rice cannot grow in PNG,” he said.
He said the commercialisation of rice in the country played an important part of the Government focus on food security and growing the small-medium enterprises sector in the country.
He said the country would be able to save the annual spending of K6 million on rice imports.