Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LNG and agriculture in focus

A broccoli paddock in Tambul, Western Highlands, owned by the PNG Bible Church and which is a major supplier to Port Moresby.-Picture by MALUM NALU
A two-day consultative and planning workshop focusing on the impact of the liquefied natural gas project on the Papua New Guinea economy, with particular reference to the agriculture sector, begins at Ela Beach Hotel in Port Moresby on Thursday (March 31).
Organised by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and the Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council (CIMC), the workshop has the theme: Maximise long-term benefits from PNG’s oil and gas mining projects and avoid the pitfalls of a resource curse – “A case for investment in the agriculture sector”.
There will be several key speakers from government and private sector including Agriculture and Livestock minister Ano Pala, Bank of PNG governor Loi Bakani, Teasury deputy secretary Anothony Yauieb, World Bank country manager Laura Bailey, and many more.
Heads of agriculture institutions including Dr Raghunath Ghodake of National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), Rural Industries Council’s Brown Bai, Coffee Industry Corporation’s Navi Anis, DAL’s Anton Benjamin, PNG Cocoa Coconut Institute’s Dr Eric Omuru and University of Natural Resources and Environment ‘s Prof Philip Siaguru add to a lively programme over the two days
“Papua New Guinea is an agrarian society due to the fact that over 85% of citizens are rural dwellers who derive their livelihood based on agriculture,” according to the programme.
“Hence, the anticipated national impact of the huge resource development projects, namely the liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects will significantly affect the agriculture sector, in different ways during both the construction and productions phases.
“Despite this important fact, inadequate consideration has been given to the implications and needs for the agriculture sector and wider rural economy, including within the context of the government’s various planning horizons, notably under the Vision 2050, the development strategic plan (DSP) 2010-2030 and the respective medium term development plans (MTDPs).
“This issue has been discussed in successive CIMC agriculture sectoral committee meetings in 2009 and 2010, and other forums, and it is in this context, that this consultative planning workshop is co-funded and hosted by the CIMC secretariat and the Department for Agriculture and Livestock.”
The objectives of the workshop include:

• To understand the possible impact of the LNG project(s) (and to some extent other major new extractive industry project) on the economy and its implications on the agriculture sector, both during the construction and production phases (notably till 2014 and from 2104, respectively);

• To endeavour to plan and mitigate negative impacts upon the agriculture from Dutch disease implications, notably currency appreciation and other inflationary pressures which might undermine the viability of the rural economy ;

• To assess key measures to safeguard and enhance priority infrastructure and services needed by the rural economy, including public management and reform (including improved models for effective service provision), including through opportunities provided by LNG developments to support the Vision 2050, the DSP 2030, and the respective five-year MTDPs, suitably revised, as may be needed.;

• To assess the key aspects considered in reforming and revising the NADP in the context of the overarching development policies and emerging issues viz. the LNG projects and climate change; and

• To assess and propose other policies and policy instruments including institutional arrangements appropriate to minimise the negative impact of LNG and other emerging challenges, while at the same time maximising the opportunities these present to the agriculture sector.

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