New plan to transform agriculture sector

The Department of Agriculture and Livestock’s Strategic and Corporate Plan 2013-2017 aims to transform the agriculture sector. This will be achieved through increased domestic and export revenue and growing the private sector especially in the rural areas.

DAL Acting Secretary Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava

DAL Acting Secretary Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava

DAL’s Acting Secretary Dr. Vele Pat Ila’ava gave an overview of the plan during a consultative meeting with stakeholders including government officials, agricultural commodity and donor agency representatives last week. The plan will be officially launched at a later date.

He said the plan is aimed at ensuring that the agriculture sector plays a meaningful and proactive role in nation building.

The plan seeks to provide the framework and guidelines which help to facilitate investment and long-term growth in the agriculture sector for industries to prosper.

Dr.Ila’ava told the meeting that the vision is about “transforming the agriculture sector to a climate-smart and business-oriented powerhouse” and “rebranding” PNG agriculture sector smallholder farmers to “Champion Business Farmers”.

He commended all stakeholders including donor agencies for their involvement in developing the plan and urged everyone to continue making their input.

The proposal to restructure the agriculture sector to make it more efficient and effective, including the reorganization of DAL, is critical at this point in time, especially with the boost in mining and petroleumactivities, and must be accorded high priority, he stated.

The key factors in the plan are to increase government budget allocation from 2% to 10% within decade, triple export and domestic revenues from agriculture within decade, promote new generation of farmers:agriculture-entrepreneurs, attract foreign capital and new investments.

Dr. Ila’ava during his presentation made reference to a recent statement by the ANZ Bank chief executive officer Mike Smith who stated that PNG could reap K80 billion by 2030 because of anticipated growth in global demand for its resources. He said this indicates PNG will have many opportunities for major investments and must move quickly to build up its agriculture exports and industries to meet the predicted demand.

He said PNG economy is now dominated by mining and energy, however, this could change by 2050 in which the economy will expect a boost in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism.

The plan has been formulated and aligned with government policies and plans including PNG Vision 2050, National Strategic Development Plan 2010-2030, Medium Term Development Plan 2011-2015, National Agriculture Development Plan 2002-2015, Food Security Policy, Import Substitution Policy, Public Private Partnership Policy, and Alotau Accord.

Dr. Ila’ava said it was in line with current Government’s agriculture priorities including rehabilitating and supporting fresh food storage and distribution infrastructure, restructuring agriculture commodity boards, and undertaking a promotional program to invite foreign investors to invest in the sector and encourage downstream processing and start large pilot projects in agriculture.

PNG currently has abundant land, water and human resources, but needs further improvements in infrastructure, technology and financial capital, to develop and transform the agriculture sector.

Dr Ila’ava further stated that the proposed restructuring of DAL will ensure that the new-look agency will have a vision to ensure PNG’s agriculture is a climate-smart and export-oriented business to provide rural development, wealth creation and food security.

The new DAL aims to enhance sector governance and performance, build capacity and strengthen DAL, enhance coordination in sector, upgrade DAL’s information management system, enhance research, development and extension, and enhance public private partnership.

It is proposed that the budget from 2013-1017 be increased from K40 million annually to over K400 million, investing in new areas in agribusiness and pilot projects. This will involve sourcing of internal and external funding and partnerships with donors and other stakeholders. One of the proposals is the establishment of an agriculture development fund.

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