The National, Monday July 29th, 2013
By JAMES APA GUMUNO
NEW Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan has called on the Government to promote local agriculture produce rather than importing them, by subsidising airfreight for farmers.
Sir Julius told Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, government ministers, fellow governors, MPs and diplomats that agriculture was the life beyond mining that the bulk of the people depended on.
He said this last Friday during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new K120 million Western Highlands provincial headquarters in Mt Hagen.
Sir Julius said to boost agricultural activities in the country, the Government must assist farmers by subsiding the cost of the airfreight.
“Western Highlands is on the right track by producing a variety of vegetables and fruits,” he said.
“But high transport cost is the only problem that prevents the farmers from selling their produce in cities such as Port Moresby.”
He said to promote the local economy, the Government must start subsiding the cost of the airfreight on all agricultural products and stop imports.
He said agriculture was the backbone of the country.
O’Neill told the people that his government had strengthened the agriculture sector by pouring in more money into the National Development Bank, formerly Agriculture Bank, for farmers to borrow.
He said in the past, many paper farmers stole money allocated for agricultural activities.
“This time, I want genuine farmers to go into the bank and borrow the money on low interest rates and expand your agriculture activities,” he said.
O’Neill told the people that the Government would set aside stabilisation funds on all agriculture commodities starting next year to help farmers and major producers in the country.