Soanu wants Morobe to lead in rice production


MOROBE Governor Ginson Saonu says the province wants to be the leading commercial rice producer in the country and help reduce Papua New Guinea’s huge rice imports. “There are more than 10,000 rice farmers in the nine districts of the province and they have very little opportunity to sell their produce or participate meaningfully in the industry,” he said. “Rice is a staple food in PNG but our country imports 95 per cent of rice from Australia, China, Vietnam and Thailand.
“So there is a huge deficit.” Saonu said he had expressed interest to Trukai Industries chief executive officer Alan Preston to buy share in Trukai on behalf of the Morobe people in a meeting in Lae last week. “Preston has agreed to take my offer to the Trukai board and shareholders and come back to the provincial government,” he added. Saonu said PNG imported about 400,000 tons of rice annually (98 per cent of the country’s rice consumption) valued at K600 million (US$177.8 million). “This is good money wasted that PNG should use to invest into growing a domestic rice industry and agriculture.  “It is imperative that the Morobe government explore business opportunities for Morobe rice growers to participate in what is an emerging and growing cash crop. “This initiative is aligned with my government’s development blue print, the Morobe kundu vision strategic plan 2018 to 2048.”