Monday, March 21, 2011

Do away with ‘paper farmers’

Tambul-Nebilyer MP and Civil Aviation Minister Benjamin Poponawa (right) listening attentively to NARI dought preparedness project team leader Akkinapally Ramakrishna at the field day in Tambul.-Picture by MALUM NALU
Tambul-Nebilyer MP and Civil Aviation Minister Benjamin Poponawa says the lessons of the massive corruption involved in the national agriculture development plan (NADP) must never be repeated if agriculture in Papua New Guinea is to prosper.
Poponawa, an outspoken critic of the NADP despite being in government and a member of the ruling National Alliance, said this last Saturday at the Nation Agriculture Research Institute field day at its high altitude research station in Tambul.
Tambul-Nebilyer is famous for producing the best potatoes and fresh vegetables in the country, and is already contributing in a big way towards development of agriculture in this country, with the research station.
It also has some of the best services found in a rural area such as good roads, health, education, mobile phone, district treasury and internet to enable NARI scientists and local people to be in touch with the world.
Tribal fighting and law and order issues have been kept to a bare minimum, and local people respect government facilities at the station.
Poponawa has, in the past, been blunt in his anger at NADP funds being stolen by “paper farmers” in Waigani who may have never touched a fork or spade in their lives.
“We already know the experience of the NADP,” he said at the field day.
“The people who ran the NADP did not think about the people, rather, about filling their own pockets.”
Poponawa called on the government not to forget about agriculture, despite the massive resource developments in the country such as gas, minerals and oil.
“Agriculture will be with us all the time,” he said.
“Gas, oil and gold will run out.
“The government should give more recognition to agriculture.”
Poponawa, who announced that he would give K50, 000 from his electoral funds to support the work of NARI, commended the organisation for its work in assisting the farmers of PNG.
“Tambul is privileged for NARI to be based here,” he said.
“NARI is an organization for the whole of PNG so I appeal to you, the local people, not to disrupt the work of NARI.
“I also thank NARI council for choosing to have its meeting in Tambul, rather than an expensive hotel in town.
“We want more scientists to come and be based here at Tambul.
“We have everything here.
“We have created a more-conduicive environment for scientists to come and be based here.”

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