Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santarina brings cheer

South African girl Megan Potgieter, 11, dressing up a Christmas tree at the Tembari Children Care (TCC) centre last Saturday.
Later, she played Little Santa to children by distributing toy car models for the boys, Barbie-like dolls for the girls and chocolates, candies and canned drinks for everybody.
Megan, her parents Andre and Sharon, brother Francois (right) and South African compatriots Elaine Blignaut and Marina Furstenberg made a visit to the centre to bring early Yuletide cheer to the 114 Tembari children, with some help from friends in Port Moresby.
Megan attends primary school at Lydenburg in South Africa.
Potgieter said they made their Christmas presentation early as they were flying to South Africa soon for the Christmas holidays.
Tembari is an orphanage day-care centre at the ATS Oro settlement at 7-Mile outside Port Moresby. – Nationalpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

PNGRFL divided

Northern and Islands zone affiliates hold AGM in defiance of deferral


THE Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League (PNGRFL) has yet another court battle looming after affiliates from the Islands and Northern zone held the originally proposed annual general meeting in Lae on Sunday, The National reports.

 This was in apparent defiance of an earlier edict by PNGRFL interim committee chairman John Numapo and chief operating officer Joe Tokam, who deferred the Nov 28 AGM to Jan 30.

But the Islands zone affiliates led by East New Britain rugby league president David Carroll said they were only following a court order in assembling for the meeting.

The gathering duly elected Bryan Kramer as the only nominee for the position of chairman present.

This was chaired by Momase police regional legal officer Chief Insp Richard Sarendou.

However, Sunday’s event have been roundly criticised by PNGRFL committee members – and nominees for the chairmanship – John Numapo and Gary Juffa.

Numapo described what transpired in Lae as an illegal gathering and that it did not represent the majority of affiliates around the country.

“The meeting was not legal. Most leagues around the country have not yet completed their affiliation requirements so how can we have a quorum for an AGM?”

He said the majority of leagues in the highlands were still in the process of affiliating and that was why he and Tokam had called for an adjournment of the AGM to January.

Numapo claimed the deferral was constitutional saying as interim committee chairman he had the power to defer the AGM or if the affiliates gathered did not form a quorum, which is 50% plus one of affiliated leagues. 

“Competitions have just wound down in most places and we need to give everyone an opportunity to participate in the AGM,” Numapo said.

However, the Islands and Northern bloc countered by saying all its leagues had followed a court order dating from July which was agreed to by disputing factions of the PNGRFL power struggle.

“We are merely following a court order that directs that the AGM be held no later than Nov 30 and if the others want to dispute that, then let them take it to court,” Carroll said.

He added that if the majority of affiliates in the Islands and Northern zones could fulfil their requirements, then why was it that the Highlands and Southern were lagging behind?

But Numapo has already questioned how many leagues are actually affiliated saying the number was four which he said was a true representation of the leagues in PNG.

He further called for the deferral to be respected and for all interested nominees along with leagues to attend the AGM next year.

Meanwhile, the resolution reached at Sunday’s meeting is currently before a judge (named) who is expected to rule on the original date which was adhered to as per the court order.



Bougainville mine 'to reopen next year'

BCL shareholders laud breakthrough with landowners


THE European shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) have welcomed the breakthrough achieved by the Panguna landowners’ conference in Buka regarding the re-opening of the Panguna mine, The National reports.

This historical decision was reached on Sunday when landowners agreed to re-open the mine towards the end of next year.

ESBC president Axel Sturm said they were very satisfied with this outcome.

“This gives Bougainville the chance to recover financially from all suffering in the last 20 years.

“I am very grateful to the Minister of Bougainville Affairs Fidelis Semoso that he finally pushed things cogently forward by organising this conference.

“We are also glad that the Autonomous Bougainville Government assisted in this important undertaking,” he said.

Sturm said he appreciated Semoso’s courage to face this sensitive issue “without any fear or prejudice”.

“Next year would bring giant investment to the island and many people who are jobless now would soon find work,” Sturm said.

“This makes me very happy especially for the young generation on Bougainville who would benefit from the decisions on this historic weekend,” he said.



Madang is 'cowboy country'

A PASTOR conducting Sunday sermon and members of his congregation were assaulted, his church destroyed and at least 10 PMV buses sustained various damages after drunk youths went on a vehicle-stoning rampage near Madang, The National reports.

Yesterday, Madang police chief Supt Anthony Wagambie warned of a police raid to flush out the culprits hiding in the problematic settlements at Mero bridge, on the road leading out of town towards the Bogia highway.

Police said the churchgoers were innocent victims of a group whose bus had been stoned and were in hot pursuit of those responsible who had fled in the direction of the church and had gone into hiding nearby.

Madang police station commander Snr Insp Steven Kaipa said after a fruitless search for the stone throwers, the angry mob turned on the churchgoers, attacking them and assaulting the pastor after dragging him from the pulpit.

He said the nearby community then took the law into their own hands, throwing stones and missiles at town-bound PMV buses, damaging at least 10 of them.

In retaliation, bus operators and their relatives, numbering about 200 and armed with various weapons, converged at Jomba police station to say they were raiding Mero and Public Tank settlements, home to mainly Sepik River migrants.

Kaipa said police had to cool tempers but warned that tensions were still high, adding that another stoning incident would turn into an all-out ethnic clash at these settlements.

Wagambie agreed, saying something drastic must be done about the Public Tank and Mero settlers.

He recalled a similar incident last month when more than 15 cars were damaged by stone-throwing youths in the area, resulting in police raiding the settlements to round up suspects.

Police believed Sunday’s attack was sparked by a group of youths from the settlement who had been drinking homebrew. Some in the group stoned a passing 8A bus, owned by a Western Highlander, heading to town from Sagalau market.

Wagambie claimed that the Sepik settlers were known for harrassing, attacking and robbing motorists and passengers using this section of the North Coast road.

He said police knew the names of three suspects and were looking for them.

Early this year, Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet also called for zero-tolerance from landowners in a bid to evict squatters in light of rising criminal activities.

In 2000, his predecessor James Yali carried out a mass eviction on settlements in the town area.

Last week, Wagambie and Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather announced that a five-member special response unit would patrol the North Coast highway.



Councillor compares his K50-a-month to an MP's pay rise



A COUNCILLOR from the Southern Highlands said the K50 he received as a monthly allowance from the government was a joke, The National reports.

Former council president for Lake Kopiago local level government and current councillor for Kopiago station Tom  Pakale told The National in Mt Hagen yesterday that councillors and national parliamentarians carry the mandate of the people, but their monthly allowance was a joke compared to what MPs get.

Pakale, who claimed to speak on behalf of 16 other councillors back in the remote Southern Highlands’ Kopiago district, said the councillors were finding it very hard to survive on a K50 allowance with the increasing prices for goods and services.

He said councillors in this remote district spent K60 on PMV fares one way into Mendi to collect their monthly allowances.

Pakale said they would spent K120 to travel long distances just to collect K50 every month, which is a joke and an insult to the councillors.

He said councillors were grouped in the third tier of government and lived and dealt directly with the people and, therefore, faced more challenges and headaches than national parliamentarians.

But their allowance did not commensurate with their responsibilities.

Pakale said it was not fair to the councillors when parliamentarians, provincial administrators, chief judge, deputy chief judge, chief magistrate and others classified as appointed officers, who were on good pay and privileges, had a pay increase by 52.08%.

He said for fairness, all councillors must paid K150 or K200 a fortnight.

He said they too have families to look after and children to send to school.



Talks to review Panguna deal



DISCUSSIONS to allow for a review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement is in progress with landowners from the mining lease areas of the Panguna mine encouraged to unite under one umbrella company, The National reports.

President John Momis said the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was working hard to encourage the landowners to unite so that they could speak and be heard in one voice.

“I am satisfied we are doing okay,” he said, adding that he believed a memorandum of understanding would be reached soon with the Panguna landowners as part of the process towards allowing for a review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement.

“We need to get the mine reopened. It will kick-start developments in Bougainville,” Momis said.

“At this time, we have not negotiated with potential developers but we have spoken with the chairman of Bougainville Copper Ltd and made known to him to respect the interest of the stakeholders, including the PNG government.”

He said he was confident that the government, with a vast mining industry, would extend its support to the autonomous region “to access the reservoir of knowledge and experience with regards to mine issues”.

Momis appealed to landowners on Bougainville to work together in re-building its peace and economy.

He added that the last thing he wanted was instability on Bougainville.

Bougainville deputy administrator for policy Raymond Masono said money was needed to conduct awareness on various ABG programmes, including weapons disposal and reconciliation.

“Weapons disposal remains a priority for the ABG.

“What it requires now is a weapons disposal plan and funding of about K6 million,” he said.

Masono said the reconciliation programme was also a priority which would require about the same amount of funding.

“Without peace and weapons disposal, economic development will not progress,” he added.

Panel set up to investigate Baki

AN investigation team has been established by the national government to probe allegations leveled against suspended Police Commissioner Gari Baki, The National reports.

The team led by former counsel of the Ombudsman Commission and former judge Nemo Yalo, also have PNG Trade Union and Public Employees Association president Michael Malabag and businessman Allan Bird have been given two weeks to submit their findings to acting chief secretary to government Manasupe Zurenuoc.

The acting chief secretary will then make a report to cabinet for further deliberations and actions.

The allegations against the suspended commissioner were raised in a letter dated Nov 4, by the prime minister which will form the basis of the investigations.

The letter had alleged that Baki had misled the government and other senior government officers in allocating K10 million for LNG operations.

The prime minister in a separate letter to the then Public Service Minister Peter O’Neill on the same date instructed the Department of Personnel Management to facilitate the suspension of Baki.

The allegations raised were that the commissioner had allowed the police force to run down and there was a general break-down in law and order.

The same letter to O’Neill gave instructions for personnel management to prepare instruments to appoint Tony Wagambie and Fred Yakasa as acting commissioner and deputy commissioner respectively.

The national executive council a couple of days later on Nov 8 suspended Baki and endorsed the acting appointments.

Zurenuoc could not be reached for comments and terms of reference of the investigations and the cost involved in the two weeks investigation.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A milestone for Madang Teachers’ College and University of Goroka

The first 10 Bachelor of Education (Primary) graduates at the MTC graduation last Friday
Madang Teachers’ College (MTC) and the University of Goroka (UOG) jointly witnessed the graduation of 10 Bachelor of Education (Primary) students at the Madang Teachers’ College 47th graduation ceremony last Friday. The result of a partnership between UOGand MTC, the students were the first intake for the Bachelor of Education (Primary) pre-service course for MTC after completing their first two years of study at UOG.
This is the first group of course graduates in the histories of both MTC and UOG.
Pro Chancellor of the University of Goroka Jerry Tetaga was present at the graduation where he gave the official address on behalf of UOG.
Tetaga said the council of UOG was focused on producing “graduates who can go out and teach good values to our children; the graduation between UOG and MTC is a special milestone”.
Guest of honour, Dr Gairo Onagi, said it was “not an affiliation but a partnership and collaboration with MTC that had made history”.
He said the status of MTC was elevated with the help of UOG.
Dr Onagi said UOG could not alone meet the government’s high demand for teachers, so one institution complimented the other.
Principal of Madang Teachers’ College, Stephen Potek, said MTC was very grateful to UOG for the partnership and would continue to graduate quality teachers with their help.
A record number of 447 students graduated at MTC on the day.

Donors keen to spur global agricultural research


Agricultural research in developing countries attracts global funding

The notion of Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) is increasingly getting internationally attention, both technically and financially.
In a new powerful display of solidarity with the world’s poor, a key donors and stakeholders meeting in Washington, D.C. early this month took a decisive step toward harmonising funding for AR4D.
This is a much-appreciated development at a time when a lot of the national agricultural research systems (NARS) globally are focused on meeting real needs of resource poor farmers in the context of AR4D.
AR4D is a paradigm shift of making agricultural research more effective in creating positive development impact, especially for smallholder farming and rural communities.
The 2008 World Development Report’s focus on agriculture for development is a direct manifestation of this shift, especially in its bid to address the millennium development goals.
The focus is to reduce and eradicate extreme poverty, assure food security, improve livelihoods, and bring in sustainable and equitable growth and development for the overall welfare of individuals and communities in the world.
The Washington meeting agreed to channel their collective support into major strategic research initiatives that will decisively confront hunger and poverty in developing countries, while cushioning climate change impacts and curbing natural resource destruction.
Inger Andersen, Fund Chair of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) says the agreement “represents a bold response to the major challenges that agriculture faces today”.
Andersen is also Vice President for Sustainable Development, World Bank.
“A more collective approach for supporting agricultural research will give new impetus to the work of the 8,000 scientists and other professionals of the CGIAR, building on a strong record of major positive impact on human well-being.”
The new agreement establishes a multi-donor trust fund (the CGIAR Fund), connecting donors with the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers.
Approval came after deliberations by the CGIAR Fund’s decision making body, the Fund Council, on November 1-2.
Director General of PNG’s NARI, Dr Raghunath Ghodake, is a member of this Fund Council, which is a 22-member apex body responsible for allocating research funds to international agricultural research centres and national research and development organisations.
The CGIAR Fund is a new multi-donor, multi-year funding mechanism that provides strategic financing to support agricultural research.
The fund is focused on reducing poverty and hunger, improving human health and nutrition, and enhancing ecosystem resilience through high-quality international agricultural research, partnership and leadership.
This is supported by creating and accelerating sustainable increases in the productivity and production of healthy food by and for the poor; conserving, enhancing, and sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity to improve the livelihoods of the poor in response to climate change and other factors; and promoting policy and institutional change that will stimulate agricultural growth and equity to benefit the poor, especially rural women and other disadvantaged groups.
More specifically, the CGIAR Fund will finance research guided by the Strategy and Results Framework that sets out common goals, objectives and results for the new CGIAR partnership. The strategy will be implemented by the CGIAR-supported Centers and their partner institutions through a portfolio of Mega Programs, ambitious research programs that aim to address today’s most pressing AR4D challenges.
Over the course of 2010 the Fund is being set up at the World Bank, which will serve as Trustee for the Fund.
Fund donors also confirmed new leadership and members of the CGIAR’s Independent Science and Partnership Council.
CGIAR Fund donors further agreed to support two new strategic research programs – one dealing with rice-based farming systems and the other with climate change, agriculture and food security.
Building on consultations with hundreds of collaborators around the world, the rice program underwent rigorous external review and revision.
The result is a broad research agenda centering on major rice ecologies and fostering critical developments in rice genomics, genetics, agronomy, postharvest handling and policy.
To ensure maximum impact, the research will be carried out jointly by three CGIAR Centers and major international organizations in France and Japan in collaboration with hundreds of partners, including the private sector, NARS and civil society.
Partners will officially launch the new initiative on November 10 at the Third International Rice Congress taking place in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The initiative on climate change, agriculture and food security, developed with the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), will involve all CGIAR Centers and a wide coalition of partners.
It will offer developing country farmers new options for coping with current climate variability, adapting to emerging impacts in the coming decades and mitigating climate change through a “carbon-friendly” agriculture that also strengthens food security and reduces poverty.
This program will be launched during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in early December at CancĂșn, Mexico.
CGIAR is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for sustainable development.
The funders include developing and industrialized country governments, foundations, and international and regional organizations.
The work they support is carried out by 15 members of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers, in close collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector.

Cook Islands’ Meyer is Miss South Pacific


Miss South Pacific Joyanna Meyer, surrounded by fellow contestants (standing from left) Miss Tokelau Meleka Mativa, Miss American Samoa Cindy Fonofili Silao and Miss Solomon Islands Fuantino Malasa. (Front seated) Miss Samoa Jolivette Menime Ete, Miss Aotearoa NZ Angella Cudd and Miss Fiji Sera Tikotikoivatu. – Nationalpic by JASON GIMA WURI

MISS Cook Islands Joyanna Meyer is the new Miss South Pacific Queen 2010-2011, The National reports.
The 21-year-old Meyer beat 10 other Pacific beauties, including PNG’s own Rachel Sapery James, on Saturday night at the Sir John Guise indoor complex to win the pageant.
In the lead-up to the crowning, she also scooped three of the eight awards on offer – Miss Photogenic, Miss Sarong and Miss Talent.
An eager local media contingent could not talk to Meyer after the crowning as she was ushered to her hotel by chaperones who promised that “media will be allowed to talk to her first thing Sunday morning”.
Despite initial hiccups at the start of the evening, which was televised lived by EMTV, it was also disappointing our own contestant failed to win a single award.
Meyer won the crown after scoring the most points in each of the four different categories the Miss South Pacific pageants were judged on sarong (laplap), talent, traditional island and stage interview.
One of the judges, New Zealander Moana Maniaopoto, confessed it was difficult to come up with a final winner as all the contestants were equally superb in the different categories they were judged on.
“I must admit it was quite difficult for us to actually come up with a winner,” she said.
“All the girls put on a great performance.
“But at the end someone has to be crowned,” Maniaopoto said.
The first runner-up was Miss Aotearoa (NZ) Angella Cudd followed by Miss Samoa Julivette Menime Ete (third), Miss Hawaiian Islands Pomaikai Klein (fourth) and Miss Fiji Sera Tikotikoivatu (fifth).
The other award winners were Miss Elegance Pomaii Klein, Miss Tourism Sera Tikotikoivatu, Miss Internet Julivette Menime Ete and Miss Friendship Mafi Tui’nukuafe (Miss Tonga).
The winner of the float procession hosted during the day went to Miss Niue Maria Mitimeti who had the best decorated float that drew a huge crowd.
The outgoing Miss South Pacific queen Marawalesi Nailatikau, while handing the crown over to Meyer, said she was happy her journey ended and that it was time to pass on the reign to the new queen
“My journey ends here and her journey begins,” she said
She said all the contestants were queens in their own rights and that there were many issues in the Pacific regarding women that needed to be addressed.
Next year’s Miss South Pacific contest will be held in Apia, Samoa, the birthplace of the event.

Pacific group seeks 30% cut in tuna catch

A GROUP of Pacific fishing nations, including Papua New Guinea, has called for a near-30% cut in next year’s tuna catch as concern about over-fishing increases, The National reports.

The eight members of the parties to the Nauru agreement (PNA) group control waters where a quarter of the world’s tuna is caught, Radio Australia reported at the weekend.

At a meeting in Majuro, in the Marshall Islands, last week they agreed to cut licensed fishing days from 40,000 to 28,469 next year.

The PNA nations operate a system known as the “vessel day scheme”, selling “fishing days” instead of licensing a set number of vessels to fish in the region.

But during the three years the scheme had been in place, the Pacific nations have had difficulty enforcing it, reducing its effectiveness for conservation.

The PNA is a sub-regional agreement on terms and conditions for tuna purse seine fishing licences in the region.

Apart from PNG, the other parties are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.

These countries own waters which supply 25% of the world’s tuna, an estimated US$2 billion worth of fish every year.

PNA fisheries policy makers met to discuss how to skyrocket fishing revenue by establishing connections with industry so the islands could become involved in all aspects of the tuna business – to compete on the same level as industry-leading Thai canneries and tuna suppliers, Ansform Aqorau, director of the PNA office in Majuro, Transform Aqorau, said.

He added that island nations must integrate boats with processing facilities and marketing into Europe and North America, PacNews reported.

“PNA is looking for long-term linkages with processing plants,” he said.

Aquorau said it would be necessary for the Pacific Islands to compete with Thai tuna products.

“The islands have set hard limits but have had difficulty in actually doing it,” Phil Roberts of Tri-Marine International, one of the world’s largest suppliers of tuna, who attended the talks in Majuro, said.

He told AFP: “The proposal to cut to 28,000 fishing days in 2011 means they will have to cut back a lot of boats.

“If they don’t, they will never get fishing under control.”



Lightning kills 4

20 more burnt as storm hits market




FOUR people were struck dead by lightning on Saturday in the upper Mendi area of the Southern Highlands, The National reports.

Twenty others received serious burns in the electric storm at about 3pm at Egari village, 18km outside Mendi, provincial disaster and emergency relief coordinator Martin Pat said yesterday.

He said the dead included a male teenager and three women, two in their early 20s.

Locals at the Egari market, recently built by Mendi MP Pr Isaac Joseph, took shelter as the storm hit and could do little to save the casualties.

Mendi General Hospital chief executive officer Joseph Turian confirmed that four people were pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

He also said that at least 20 people were treated at the hospital, kept overnight and discharged yesterday.

Three with more serious wounds were retained, Turian said, adding that others who received minor injuries were treated at the Mongol Health Centre on Saturday.

He said the hospital was quick to respond as soon as word of the disaster reached the accident and emergency section in the afternoon.

Pat said a provincial disaster and emergency relief team visited Egari village yesterday to assess the damage, saying that about 400 people were at the market when the electric storm struck.

They were astounded by its intensity, he said, adding that lightning struck two trees and the three women who were sitting nearby on one of the market benches.

Pat did not say how the teenager was killed, however, his team had assured relatives of the deceased that they would work with relevant authorities to make sure that some form of relief assistance was provided.

He also commended Mendi hospital staff for ensuring that the patients received care and treatment.

He identified the deceased as Job Peand, 13; Janet Simon, 25; Rita Samal, 24; and an elderly woman Ogon Nonpi.

The wounded were recovering from shock, he added.

People in the area said a child was struck dead by lightning last year in a similar electric storm.



Villagers give notice on deep-sea mining



WEST coast central New Ireland landowners will ask the Supreme Court to stop any deep-sea mining in the area until the current mining laws governing sacred fishing grounds are properly interpreted, The National reports.

Nautilus Minerals had obtained national government approval to begin deep sea mining off the coast of New Ireland and East New Britain.

Namatanai MP Byron Chan and the provincial government have joined forces with the West-coast Central Seabed Mining Landowners Association to fight for benefits from the mining operations.

Landowner representatives including chairman Benson ToMarum, secretary Eugene Pasmet and technical adviser Roboam Paka and Chan held a joint media conference in Port Moresby last Friday to announce the legal challenge.

“We will make an application to the Supreme Court in Kokopo for an interpretation of the Mining Act,” Paka said.

He said the current memorandum of agreement has three signatories, which is the state, the developer and the two provincial governments of East New Britain and New Ireland.

“We have engaged lawyers to go to court to seek interpretation whether we can claim ownership of the sea.”

Paka said villagers, who used the ocean area to be mined for food,  had not been consulted, simply because the Mining Act was not clear on the sea aspect.

“We want the seaowners to be part of the MoA and pre-project financing be enjoyed by the locals.”

Paka said the rights of landowners to fish and visit their sacred sites out at sea must be protected.

“The state has resolved that we are not owners of the sea.

“The state seems to think

that ownership ends at

the waterfront,” he said.

Paka said the people had a long association with the sea around the St George Channel through fishing and sacred shark-calling activities.

“Our cultures are linked to the sea and we want that to be addressed in the MoA.”

Chan said four main issues were equity, mining facilities and operations, seaowners being part of the MoA and pre-project financing.

“We are taking the matter to court for legitimacy of the current Mining Act to ensure the rights of our people are protected,” he added.



East New Britain MPs pledge to work together



ALL five national members of parliament from East New Britain have pledged their undivided support and cooperation to ensure the province is developed further to the next level, The National reports.

The ENB leaders’ summit held at parliament house last Thursday evening was attended by Governor Leo Dion, Pomio MP Paul Tiensten, Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat, Kokopo MP Patrick Tammur and Gazelle MP Malakai Tabar.

The summit was a follow-up to the inaugural meeting held in July last year to discuss issues affecting the development of the province.

According to deputy administrator for policy, planning and evaluation, Bernard Lukara, the summit provided a real opportunity for the leaders to discuss issues and organised and facilitated annually by the provincial administration.

Provincial administrator Akuila Tubal also gave a brief statement to the leaders at the summit on the development status of the province, including the vision, mission and values for the new provincial strategic development for the province 2011-21, New Britain highway, 2011 provincial budget themes and strategies and recommendations from the ENB-WNB joint development meeting held last month.

Dion thanked all leaders for attending saying the show of support among the leaders was for the good of the province.

Tammur commended his colleagues and thanked Dion for his leadership.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The need for research and development in smallholder agriculture in Papua New Guinea


Food and nutrition insecurity, and particularly seasonal scarcity of staples, have become a national challenge in Papua New Guinea as a consequence of human population growing faster than that of agricultural output in recent years.

Golden Pine (Bulolo) inland fish project by NARI
With 87% of the human population dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, almost all of whom are smallholder farmers, it is imperative that national agricultural research and development efforts aim at enabling the smallholder agriculture sector produce enough to meet family subsistence needs for food and agriculture, supply urban markets and even contribute to export markets.
As the World Development Report 2008 of the World Bank maintains, the relatively large size of this sector also means that the most-effective and direct way of improving food security and alleviating poverty in countries like PNG is to enhance productivity of this sector.
Similarly the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) emphasises that only the smallholder farmers themselves can put an end to rural and peri-urban food insecurity and poverty.
Unfortunately these largely-subsistent family crop and livestock farms are often considered traditional, old-fashioned and backward that resist efforts to improvement and modernisation, and that only large scale intensive commercial farms are deemed to provide the only hope of modernising agriculture in countries like PNG.
Such erroneous notions tend to influence national policy decision making for research and development.
The purpose of the article is to highlight the strategic importance of research to improve smallholder family farms for overall national economic development with particular reference to the smallholder livestock raising.
In the first instance, what are the key reasons for paying attention to the smallholder livestock farmers?
1. The small farms produce most of the food and some petty income to support livelihoods of the majority of the rural population. They therefore provide direct realistic opportunities for improving rural livelihoods;
2. The majority of livestock in the country, particularly pigs, chicken, ducks, goats and sheep, are maintained by smallholder subsistence farmers, and any desired improvement of these resources should focus on these small family farms;
3. The aggregate of small sustained improvements achieved at individual farm level add up in economic significance at local, regional and national levels, so they can be an engine for economic development;
4. Small family farms are essentially an enormous reservoir of labour and skilled manpower that can be tapped into to enhance livestock production, which otherwise can potentially overwhelm urban areas through voluntary migration; and
5. As is the case with coffee, cocoa, coconut and other export crops, smallholder livestock farms can also be a source of important export commodities, such as meat, skins, hides and other products.
Agricultural research has potential to deal with these issues and develop appropriate remedial technologies in collaboration with smallholder farmers, provided adequate human and material resources are made available to run these research projects. Furthermore, research can be effectively used to:
1. Explore the yield potential of livestock and the ways and means to improve yields;
2. Identify and investigate constraints to production;
3. Develop new and improved ways of production and product handling;
4. Adapt suitable technologies and innovations developed elsewhere;
5. Develop more efficient practices of managing natural resources such as livestock, land, soil, water and even human labour, and
6. Explore strategies for managing current and arising emergencies such as outbreaks of diseases.
Various research tools can be used to ensure that such research is based on the needs and priorities of target smallholder farmers.
In fact when the smallholder farmers are a dominant element of the agriculture sector, it is reasonable to focus on the farmers’ indigenous practices with the view to strengthening the natural forces towards intensification of traditional agriculture.
The history of rapidly-growing economies in Asia with well-developed agriculture sectors shows that assisting the masses of smallholder farmers to have access to improved agricultural practices can bring about lasting transformation of the sector.
Testing and refinement of farmers’ traditional practices and innovations led to significant gains in productivity of smallholder subsistent agriculture until intensive commercial agriculture took a more prominent role.
International research and development institutions are advising that to promote growth in agricultural productivity over the longer term, developing countries like PNG should greatly increase their investment in agricultural research and development, rural infrastructure and market access for poor farmers.
A key requirement for boosting productivity growth is to invest in research aimed at preserving and making better use of diverse indigenous genetic resources for crop and animal improvement.
In the face of recent global crisis on grain supplies, governments are being called to renew their commitment to the development and dissemination of improved agricultural technologies as the only viable long-term solution for ensuring that affordable food is available to poor consumers both in rural and urban areas.
Without strong growth in disposable incomes imported food commodities will become increasingly unaffordable.
Technological innovation, in combination with policy reforms, has worked well in the past in the transformation of agriculture in many Asian countries.
According to the World Development Report 2008, investment in agricultural research has paid off generously, emphasising that further investment is needed in research and development targeting the predominant smallholder farming sector.
The current level of annual public investment in research, science and technology in the agriculture sector in PNG is only 0.5% of agricultural GDP of K4 billion, while the internationally recommended rate is 2.0%.
The prevailing global food crisis, the ominous threat of global climate change, and pressure from globalisation all call for greater emphasis in long-term investment in agriculture to ensuring sustainable agricultural development.
More public funding for research and rural development is needed to utilise the huge potential of the smallholder livestock sector to assure food security, increase incomes, generate gainful employment and contribute to rural as well as national economic development.

Ms Cook Islands wins Miss South Pacific title

Joyana Meyer (pictured above) of Cook Islands was last night crowned the 2010-2011 Miss South Pacific at Port Moresby's Sir John Guise Indoor Sports Stadium.
The crowning was a culmination of a busy week for the beatuties from countries of the South Pacific.
Eleven contestants vied for the Miss South Pacific title and Miss Cook Islands Joyana Myer won the title scoring well in all categories of the competition.
The final night featured the traditional wear and stage interview.
Next year the MSPP will be held in its birth place, Samoa.
Ms Meyer takes the crown from Ms Merawalesi Nailatikau of Fiji.

Ms Cook Islands (centre) surrounded by the other 10 Pacific beauties

More to come

Friday, November 26, 2010

PNG forecast to outdo Fiji in next decade

ANZ Banking Group chief Pacific economist Paul Guenwald said Papua New Guinea is the economic powerhouse of the Pacific and is set to outperform Fiji in the next decade as it did in the last, The National reports.

Guenwald, elaborating on new report from the bank on Pacific economies this week, said the resources boom would  see PNG continue to outperform Fiji until at least 2020, Radio Australia reported.

It quoted Guenwald as saying that despite the strong growth reported, PNG still lagged behind most Pacific countries on measures of personal economic well-being.

According to the bank, PNG’s per capita gross domestic product was around one-third of that in Fiji.

Gruenwald told Radio Australia he expected that to improve in the next 10 years, good management of the resources revenue by the government, was important to boost income and wealth.

“As of last year, which is the latest data we have on an annual basis, PNG’s economy is approaching US$8 billion in terms of GDP, that’s substantially larger than Fiji’s that is closer to US$3 billion,” he said.

“However, if we look at it on a per capita basis, the fixture is quite different, where we’ve got PNG’s per capita income of about US$3,000 and PNG is closer to US$1,000,” he said.

Guenwald’s comments on Wednesday came as international accounting firm Deloitte Touche said that PNG’s economy  grew by an estimated 5.5% last year and was expected to grow by 7.1% this year.

Asked how he saw PNG performing in the next 10 years, Guenwald said: “We think the story is also quite good in the decade we’ve just begun.

“The reason is the LNG project, which, if it is managed properly, should be able to keep PNG’s growth rate relatively high.



MPs' pay rise

Massive 52% rise also for departmental heads and others




MEMBERS of parliament yesterday voted to give themselves a hefty 52% pay rise before adjourning for a six-month holiday, The National reports.

Opposition MPs walked out of the chamber when Public Service Minister Moses Maladina, appointed to the portfolio less than 24 hours earlier, presented the 36th report of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

Parliament adopted the report on voices without debate.

The vote by parliament raised the base salaries from the prime minister down to an ordinary MP by 52.08%.

The base salary of departmental heads, provincial administrators, provincial assembly members, the chief justice, his deputy and judges, the chief magistrate and others classified as appointed leaders also went up by the same percentage.

The rise in their base salary was backdated to last year, and this rise alone will cost taxpayers K33 million, an appropriation not provided for in the 2011 budget approved early this week.

The rise in the salary rate was based on a review conducted by Hay Group Consultants in 2008.

Maladina said they had found a huge gap in the remuneration of leaders that had developed since the last review in 2000.

He said the report stated that over the nine-year period, leaders’ base salaries had increased by only 5% compared to 52% in the public sector.

During the same period, official CPI increased by 53%, hence, the real value of leaders’ salaries had fallen by more than half while the public sector average salary level was projected to have increased by not less than 10% between last year and next year, Maladina added.

The rise in the base salaries of MPs came after they recently voted to give themselves a 100% increase in housing and vehicle allowances. A total of 750 people will be affected in the salary rise.

The prime minister’s base salary will rise to K262,762 per annum from the current base salary of K172,770. The speaker’s will rise from K146,645 to K223,029; Deputy PM and opposition leader from K134,518 to K204,585; ministers from K104,814 to K159,408; MPs from K52,595 to K79,991; governors from K36,920 to K56,151; and assembly members from K12,885 to K19,597.

The chief secretary’s salary will rise from K134,515 to K204,585 while the chief justice will be paid K261,601 annually from K172,007.

The report also recommended that the security allowance for the public solicitor and the the public prosecutor be upgraded from K6,000 per annum to K12,000.

It also recommended for the prime minister’s overseas travel allowance to be increased from US$100 per day to US$500, which would also include the speaker of parliament and the chief justice.



Roadblocks outlawed

COMPENSATION claims and blocking of roads by villagers and landowners have been outlawed by parliament yesterday, The National reports.

The enactment of the protection of transport infrastructure received overwhelming support from MPs, voting 62-0, to pass the bill yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye, in presenting the bill, said it was intended to protect infrastructure of all the three modes of transport in land, sea and air.

He said the bill would ensure all transport infrastructures were available to be used for national, provincial and local level transport and was free from encroachment, deliberate damage and excessive and unjustified compensation claims.

Polye said for many years, land used for transport infrastructure had been the subject of encroachment, blockades, trespass, deliberate damage and unjustified compensation claims for infrastructure, even where just and fair compensation had been paid to landowners.

“The cost of this is enormous, with some roads being encroached on, blockaded for extensive periods and/or made unusable by deliberate damage and unjustified additional compensation being paid to landowners amounting to millions of kina.

“The money used to repair transport infrastructure, which is deliberately damaged and paid out for unjustified additional compensation, can and should be used for other purposes including health care, education and building and maintaining much-needed transport infrastructure.”

Any person found guilty of putting up roadblocks, damaging infrastructure such as survey pegs or markers, would be fined K100,000 or jailed for two years.

The more serious of this offence would invoked a fine of K1 million, or 10 years in jail.

Also, anyone who demanded compensation with the intention to extort would be fined K500,000 or face a five-year jail term.

Polye said service delivery and economic development had been hampered by such unruly behaviour for too long, and it was time for the government to get tough.

He said genuine claims and grievances would be addressed through the proper process.



Six-month holiday



PARLIAMENT has been adjourned for six months to May next year, after Treasurer Peter O’Neill was forced to assure Speaker Jeffery Nape that K20 million would be released next week for urgent maintenance work in parliament, The National reports.

The adjournment ensured the prime minister cannot face a vote of no-confidence in this term of parliament.

Before that, Nape informed the house that a notice for a vote of no-confidence, which was handed in by the opposition, was found to be defective by the Private Business Committee because three MPs who had signed the notice had withdrawn their support.

Their withdrawal reduced the signatories from 11 to eight, insufficient to uphold the notice.

The speaker’s unusual step to get O’Neill to publicly commit to releasing K20 million by next week gave the impression there was collusion to ensure parliament would meet again 12 months away from the issue of writ for the next general elections.

The opposition described it as a calculated move.

Some government MPs, like Community Development Minister Dame Carol Kidu, was caught by surprise.

“I thought we agreed in government caucus this morning to adjourn to March,” she said, questioning if resuming in May would give them enough time to address the bill of the 22 reserved seats for women.

Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta said the period of adjournment was interesting that parliament would resume a year before the issue of writs for the general elections in 2012.

“They have done it better in that there will be no vote of no-confidence unless parliament is recalled.”

He claimed that parliament had failed to sit the required 63 days, which would be challenged in court.

“We might as well close down parliament. It is a mockery.

“The relationship between the legislature and the executive government is very strong,” Sir Mekere said.

The opposition also questioned the move by Nape to adjourn for the refurbishment of the house from the K20 million allocation from the supplementary budget.

Opposition member and Abau MP Sir Puka Temu questioned the scheme between the legislature and executive arm of government collaborating to adjourn parliament to avoid the move to oust the prime minister.

He said the funding for parliament maintenance needed to be scrutinised.

“Will public procurement be followed?” Sir Puka asked.

O’Neill last night said the adjournment of parliament to May next year was due to the declining state of parliament facilities including air-conditioning, elevators, toilets and security.

“That is the reason why the speaker adjourned parliament because it cannot function efficiently.”

He said money would go through the normal tendering and procurement processes.

“No money will be disbursed until procurement processes are complete.”

He said the commitment was made to release the money next week through a trust account under the care of parliament.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Butibam women performing a traditional dance

Butibam women performing a traditional dance

Ahi Festival to bring together local Lae villages


Symbol of the Ahi Festival

The inaugural Ahi Festival, a major cultural and sporting event involving the six Ahi villages in and around Lae, will be held at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae from Dec 12-17.
It is an initiative of Riback Stevedores Ltd, the major employer of Ahi men and women from the six Ahi villages of Wagang, Yanga, Butibam, Hengali, Kamkumung and Yalu and has their full support.
Riback Stevedores staff modeling uniforms which will be worn by the six villages during the inaugural Ahi Festival next month.-Pictures courtesy of Riback Stevedores

Sporting events include basketball, volleyball, netball, soccer, touch rugby and a number of other fun games for the kids.
The Ahi Festival – with the theme Promoting Education Through Sports & Culture - is aimed at raising funds for the establishment of an Ahi resource centre, an education facility which will have a library, computer laboratory and conference and workshop facilities.
“The Ahi Festival is an initiative of Riback Stevedores Ltd and has the full support of the Ahi community,” explains Riback general manager Peter Boyd.
“The company believes that the effects of the social problems facing the Ahi community can be wide-ranging in size anywhere from local effects on a family or a village to the Lae community and even the entire society. 
“The company therefore wants to do its part in helping the Ahi community to help themselves to take a lead now in working towards addressing some of their social problems. 
“We hope other members and stakeholders of the Lae community can also join in and help the people of Ahi in their endeavours to create an educated and orderly community that can co exist peacefully with others in the wider Lae community.”
Boyd said the social problems of the Ahi community could be addressed only if the community could unite and work together in search of solutions with the support of strategic partners. 
“The Ahi Festival can be a powerful tool to unite the Ahi community,” he added.
“It can also create awareness of the social issues and promote a team approach with key stakeholders to address the socials problems with the view to minimise its crippling effects on the people of Ahi – the current generation and also the future generation.”
Some of the main objectives of the Ahi Festival include:
           Promoting community unity;
           Promoting and preserving Ahi culture;
           Creating awareness on social Issues and assistance available; and
           Showcase local talents in culture, sports, music and business.
The Ahi villages are all located within and around Lae – the industrial city of Papua New Guinea. 
Along with the expansion and development of Lae, these traditional villages are also being forced to accept new changes and influences brought about by the changing socio-economic conditions.
The changing socioeconomic conditions have placed a high demand for land on the Ahi communities. 
This has seen most of the traditional land being taken away.
 Land was taken earlier by missionaries, then the colonial government and recently the state and industry. 
The attractions of  urban life along with government’s and industry’s demand for labour has also attracted Papua New Guineans to migrate to Lae in search for work and better living conditions.
 This unfortunately has created a need for more land.
 Consequently, customary land which used to be hunting and gardening land has all been replaced with buildings, factories and urban settlements. 
Without gardening or hunting land, most inhabitants of the Ahi community are now forced to adopt and embrace the cash economy. 
“Education of the children of Ahi is therefore important,” Boyd said.
“Without land and other natural resources, the human resources must be trained and developed if the Ahi community is to survive and live in peaceful co-existence with every other Papua New Guinean and the wider Lae community.”  
The economic changes around Lae also bring with them many tangible and intangible social problems which affect the Ahi communities. 
Tangible social problems include unemployment; law and order issues; drug abuse; alcohol problems; and school drop-out rate is high.
Intangible social problems include breakdown in moral standards; lack of ethics in community leadership – a recipe for corruption which affects the management of church groups, clans and businesses owned by the people; community disharmony; and breakdown in the family unit