Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Agriculture plan slammed

THE controversial National Agriculture Development Plan (NADP), which caused a scandal two years ago when millions of kina, earmarked for farmers, was allegedly stolen by “paper farmers” in Waigani, has backfired again on the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, The National reports.
In 2009, an allocation of K100 million was used up in a matter of months, with no proper accountability amid claims that much of it had gone into financing dubious projects and individuals.
This time, major agricultural commodities had rubbished unrealistic projections contained in the “realigned” NADP, which were contained in the Department of National Planning and Monitoring national development strategic plan 2030 (DSP 2030).
The development plan expected agricultural commodities to achieve the projections by 2030.
It expected cocoa to reach 310,000 metric tonnes by 2030 from 28,433 this year; copra 440,000mt from 36,383mt; palm oil 1,600,000mt from 491,715mt; and coffee 500,000mt from 73,868mt.
At least three commodities – cocoa, copra and palm oil – have scoffed these end-of-the-rainbow projections.
They said they were not consulted by DAL or DNPM before making these projections, which would also be part of the much-vaunted Vision 2050.
PNGCCI chief executive officer Dr Eric Omuru described the projections – 554% for cocoa and 400% for copra – as a joke.
Palm oil representative Ian Orrell said, maybe, that was why so much land had been given away as special agriculture and business lease (SABL) for “con” palm oil projects.
These criticisms against National Planning and DAL were made at a workshop last Friday, focusing on the liquefied natural gas project and its effect on the agriculture sector.
“The projections for various agricultural commodities, contained in DSP 2030, have been adopted as key result areas for the realigned NADP,” Omuru said.
“When I first saw these projections, I thought they were a joke!
“For the cocoa and coconut industries , which I represent in my current job, increase in cocoa production by 554% from the current average of 50,000mt to 310,00mt and for copra, an increase of 400% from the current average of 100,000mt to 440,000mt by 2030, are hard to imagine,” he said.
“Without consultation, it is hard to imagine where National Planning got the background intelligence to set these targets.”
Orrell said there had been no government support for the “real” palm oil sub-sector, with more than 15 years of government facilitation of “new” palm oil developments.
He questioned the DSP 2030 and NADP’s aim to triple palm oil exports by 2030, and expressed a strong desire for new investors.
“It appears PNG is being advertised overseas as a large available land bank,” Orrell said.
“Departments and politicians are courting any entrepreneurial proposal, no matter how little expertise, credentials or lack of financial capacity is exhibited.”
He said all these were done with no consultation with the country’s palm oil sector; and no understanding of palm oil development and requirements.
Former DAL secretary Mathew Wela Kanua warned in 2009 that the NADP was doomed to failure because its initial recommendations were not being adhered to and would also have a drastic effect on the agriculture sector in PNG.

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