Agriculture is central to inclusive and sustainable economy

Hon Joseph Lelang

Hon Joseph Lelang

Papua New Guinea needs to build its economy on a platform that is inclusive and sustainable, and agriculture should be supported and built as the back bone of the country’s economy going forward, says Joseph Lelang, Member for Kandrian/ Glouster.

He said the agriculture sector, which continues to support 85% of some 7 million people, in particular the rural masses, and contributes 18% to GDP, is a critical strategic asset that can function as a growth pillar of the economy into the future.

“It is common knowledge, that the non-renewable mineral and petroleum extractive industries are the leading contributors to the country’s economy,” Lelang said.

“However, the realities of the current fiscal stress, arising out of the drop in world prices on exports from these industries, are clearly teaching us that our over reliance on such industries is not sustainable economic growth.”

An inclusive and sustainable economy is therefore the way to go and Lelang stated that agriculture should take centre stage.

Lelang made the comments when giving the keynote address at the 2015 Agricultural Innovations Show in Lae on August 12. The annual event was hosted by NARI.

He said Vision 2050 is the platform for this to happen as it sets out to improve strategic planning, better service delivery, governance, training of human capital, tariff reduction, trade, education reform, greater value adding through downstream processing and manufacturing, land reform, and the use of impact projects in the sub national level to set the base for growth to 2020.

Lelang said together with this national vision, the Sustainable Development Paradigm, National Strategy for Responsible Sustainable Development and the new Medium Term Development Plan 2 were adopted as platforms and road-maps for sustainable development – in view of the Millennium Development Goals and PNG Constitution.

“Underpinned by this new development paradigm other consequent and complementary policies have been developed aimed at embedding greener and responsible sustainable development growth strategies in all sectors going forward,” he said.

“These macro and sector plans are futuristic growth prescriptions and demonstrate that the Government is skillfully and prudently making adjustments to our development road map by building PNG’s economy on the unique strength of its strategic assets aimed at positioning PNG competitively among her peers in the global market place.”

Lelang added that the idea was to build PNG’s economy on a platform that is inclusive and greener in character, sustainable and competitive globally.

Agriculture is undoubtedly that sector that must be supported and built as the backbone for the country’s economy for the future, he stated.

Display on galip nut development in PNG by NARI

Display on ‘galip nut development’ by NARI

The Development Strategic Plan (DSP 2030) sets the goal of the agriculture sector to be: “A world class agricultural sector that is responsive to international and domestic markets for a diverse range of products and provides the best available income and job opportunities”, he stressed.

Building on this goal the MTDP 2 reasserted these key priorities of the sector in;

  • Institutional capacity building,
  • Access to land for productive agriculture,
  • Development of supply chains linking producers to markets,
  • Provision of extension services,
  • Mitigations strategies against pests and diseases,
  • Enforcement of CODEX standards,
  • Utilization of economic corridors, and
  • Research and development as the primary strategies for the development of the sector.

These indicate the importance of agriculture in the development life of the country.

“Every effort therefore, needs to be made to improve the strength and performance of the sector in terms of infrastructure support, containment of rising costs of agriculture inputs, development and use of new innovative technologies to give growers better returns through resilient farming practices, and improved value adding and delivery of higher quality products for both domestic and international markets.

Lelang congratulated the NARI Council, Management, and ancillary staff for their continued dedication and invaluable contribution to agricultural research for innovative development; this being the 18th Anniversary of their dedication.

“I also commend you all for prudent and accountable management of public funds during the life of the institute. The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, I am advised, has commended you as one of only ten government-funded organizations that have continued to receive unqualified audit reports.”

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