From PAUL OATES
DURING A RECENT farmers' tour to Greece and Turkey I observed a number of social impacts affecting both countries that Papua New Guinea could learn from.
The European Union (EU) recently offered large subsidies to Greek farmers to grow cotton and so compete with other non-EU cotton producers.
Many farmers turned to cotton in preference to their normal food crops.
But cotton needs a lot of water and Greece is mostly a very dry country.
So when it started to import fresh food because it was not growing enough itself, the cotton subsidies were discontinued.
Lesson: Only crops suitable for the local conditions and local consumption should be encouraged. Perhaps the broad acre farming of oil palm in PNG should be reviewed to see who will benefit from this activity in the long run.
With 73 million people, Turkey is a very populous country with 50 per cent of its people involved in primary production.
Since every farmer traditionally wills his farm to his children, as the rural population has increased, each farm has become smaller.
Now many farms are unviable.
Increasingly, young people are moving to the cities to find employment away from the hard work on the land.
Yet they still own small unproductive acreages - good food producing land standing idle or growing weeds.
The Turkish government has just passed a law that only those people who farm can inherit land.
There will soon be a larger drift of young, unskilled people to the cities.
These people will need retraining and new employment opportunities.
Yet the current government does little planning.
Lesson: Planning will help PNG when rural small holdings become unviable and there is a larger drift of young people to the cities. Training and new employment activities must be planned now to absorb this future labour force.
Both Greece and Turkey are much sought after tourist destinations.
Both are situated in a very volatile part of the world and every time there is strife, tourism slumps dramatically.
Neither country can control its neighbours and economic activities can be severely affected by what goes on next door.
Lesson: Don't become dependent on just one big export earner, especially if it may be directly influenced by another country. In other words, 'Don't put all your eggs in one basket'. Now why did I immediately think of LNG?