By SOLDIER BURUKA of DAL
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed to promote rubber development in the Manus province.
The signing took place between the Department of Agriculture and Livestock and the Manus provincial government last week in
Officiating at the signing ceremony, acting Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Peter O’Neill, described it as the way forward for the development and expansion of the rubber industry in Manus province.
“The National Government supports the initiative taken by the Manus provincial government for the establishment and development of the rubber estate and will undertake to provide the necessary funding and technical assistance, including training and extension services to growers,” Mr O’Neill said.
He said the MoU would also enable the stakeholders to be involved in the effective planning, organising and management of rubber development and expansion in the province.
This, he said, was an example of the public-private partnership which the National Government encourages for sustainable agriculture growth and to involve investors in the process.
He emphasised that the important thing was for the provincial government and the resource owners to benefit in the long term.
“The rubber industry offers some challenges and the Government through the Rubber Industry Board and NDAL and relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, are working together to promote the industry,” Mr O’Neill said.
“The public-private partnership is an effective way to support the board and department in their efforts to commence rehabilitation and replanting in potential areas of the country.”
Mr O’Neill said rubber had been cultivated in the country for over 100 years but its contribution to the GDP remained marginal.
Although over 40,000 ha were planted in the past only, 18,230 ha still exist with 6,000 ha in production.
Rubber provides income for over 5,000 growers and indirectly supports another 20,000 population.
In Manus province, it is smallholder-based with 126 growers with an area of 149 ha of matured rubber.
PNG’s natural rubber can be a major foreign exchange earner and is fast becoming a major commodity, given the growing need for natural rubber around the globe.
The current world market price for classified rubber is $US2, 000 per tonne which is around K5, 000.
Manus Governor Michael Sapau signed the MoU on behalf of the province.
Also present was Minister for Inter-Government Relations Job Pomat, DAL Secretary Anton Benjamin and Rubber Board deputy chairman Colin Damai.