Sir Puka hands agriculture over to Tomscoll

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The National, Thursday 13th September, 2012

THE agriculture industry should be among the top five sectors because millions of livelihoods depended on it,  Public Service Minister Sir Puka Temu said yesterday.
He said this during the handover ceremony for the new Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Tommy Tomscoll at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby.
Congratulating Tomscoll, Sir Puka said the agriculture sector  needed  restructuring and funding accordingly as the country was expecting to see an increase of 11% in its revenue from the sector in the next four years.
He said the government could not sit back and continue to ignore the pain felt by most small-holder farmers, adding that a large percentage of such farmers were fresh fruit producers and needed to be supported over longer period.
“A special account has to be established for times of disaster or to support local farmers during crisis in world markets.”
Sir Puka said a total of K130 million was put into the National Development Bank to assist agriculture farmers and small to medium enterprises (SME) of which K100 million was for agriculture to help farmers with loans and the balance for SMEs.
“Eighty-five percent of the population depends on agriculture and farmers need to be supported during price fluctuations, natural disasters and pest infestations,” he said.
Tomscoll thanked Sir Puka and said he was ready to take on the new role and address the challenges faced by small holders.