Spice farmer not happy with land deal

Highlands

A LEADING spice farmer is calling on the government to retain the titles to land earmarked for
K1 billion agricultural developments in the highlands and not transfer them to developer China Railway.
The developments involve integrated agricultural industrial parks in Western Highlands and Eastern Highlands.
Planned are a 130ha development at Korofeigu, along the Highlands Highway outside Goroka, and at Hati, in the Wahgi Valley, on the border of Jiwaka and Western Highlands.
Eastern Highlands spice farmer Sakarias Ikio said the titles of the land should be retained by the State through the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
Speaking on behalf of China Railway, company representative Brian Waii said the land would be transferred to the Chinese firm.
But Ikio said: “The land must be leased and revenue can be generated from the use of the land rather than giving away the title to China Railway.”
He said the two locations identified are State-owned land and facilities and the titles must therefore remain with the Government and used for such things as model farms, training, and demonstration facilities.
“If the Government had been serious to develop the agriculture sectors, the two locations would have been better utilised,” he said.
“Because they were not used and left sitting idle, does not mean we are lazy. I asked the Government through the Department of Agriculture to develop a spice extension programme at Korofeigu site but there were no response.”
Ikio said he had wanted to use the land for only five years to carry out spice extension programmes like a seed nursery but was never given the chance. “I welcome the plan to establish the agriculture industrial park, but the Chinese Company must not be given the titles and the land should only be leased to them,” he said.

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