Sunday, October 06, 2019

PM Marape: Agriculture is 'mother of all industries'

Prime Minister James Marape lays out his roadmap for agriculture at the South Pacific Institute of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SPISARD) seminar at the University of Technology in Lae on Thursday, Oct 3, 2019

The Marape-Steven Government is repositioning all Government policies and laws towards ensuring Papua New Guinea becomes economically independent.

University of Technology students welcoming Prime Minister James Marape to the Lae campus on Thursday morning.
PMJM receiving a gift from University of Technology Chancellor Jean Kekedo after addressing the SPISARD seminar on Thursday morning.

For what good is political independence if we aren’t economically strong?

Our citizens must have money and be self-sufficient and self-sustaining , our provinces and Bougainville must be financially strong, our National Government must have the resource envelope to ensure we not borrowers or beggars.

This is what I mean by economically independent.

In a country that is so richly endowed with natural resources, how come poverty is prevalent, how come borrowing from loans and financial plus technical grants continues to be the modus operandi to fill in the revenue gaps to support our country’s development needs?

As I look at the rich endowments of our Papua New Guinea, I see our minerals and hydro carbon industries must be harvested and processed in an optimum manner;

I see our forestry and fisheries sectors must be harvested sustainably and downstream processing must start in these sectors;

I see our tourism sector must grow to ensure our diverse culture and ecology yields dividend to our economy.

I also see agriculture as "mother of all industries" that our country has the greatest strength, and in agriculture lays the safety and security of our nation.

Agriculture will feed a family and the nation and agriculture will generate income for the family and the nation.

The greatest individual , country and global need is not oil, gas, gold, iron, timber, etc but food and oxygen.

 We have both here in abundance PNG.

Oxygen aside and just on food, if eighr million citizens of our country are burning their kinetic energy for sustainable agriculture or spending money equivalent to K1 on food a day, it will add up to about K2.92 billion business and industry opportunity in our country alone.

That’s the most conservative estimate.

Food is a big industry and business both globally and locally.

 For instance, our Government’s policy to be rice and beef sufficient by 2025 will mean that we are retaining almost $1 billion of capital flight every year offshore.

When I look at our trading partners in our APEC and ASEAN neighborhood, I see a mighty big population of 110 million Filipinos, 260 million Indonesians, 1.4 billion Chinese , and a balance of around a billion people in the Asia-Pacific region who all need to eat food every day.

Whether it’s organic food for the health conscious affluent or just food for the masses, in a world of unpredictable wether patterns, climate change and declining arable land, Papua New Guinea will be the food basket of Asia Pacific in the first instance.

Agriculture can be an economic powerhouse for PNG.

We have good quality arable land, we have water available all year round, we have sunshine all year round, and best of all our citizens own 95 percent of all our nation’s 462,840 square kilometres of land.

Our Government will endeavor to unlock our potentials in agriculture business by doing the following:

*Do an agriculture map to know which part of our country has what potentials;

*Build enabling infrastructures systematically so we not only develop agriculture but enable efficient delivery of produces to the markets;

*Structure our families into SMEs and corporatives that can be linked to SME and business support facilities Government will establish with financial institutions;

*Linking Government tertiary student loan schemes to parents and guidance who must be involved in agriculture;

*Put price stabilisation facility to ensure our people earn respectable income for their investments in agriculture;

*Migrate family agribusiness into SMEs, migrate SMEs into bigger business and ensure that agriculture has finished products (secondary industry) of world standard that is exported;

*Link agriculture businesses to special economic zones we designating nationwide to ensure agriculture industries grows; and

*Lastly but not the least amongst other things we will do, increase our support to research and science and study facilities to provide data, statistics and studies for further improvement in Agriculture and economy or our country in general.

Challenges before us as a nation remains so big and against a backdrop of growing population above 3% every year, with dilapidated infrastructure and non-expanded economic base, where revenue remains small against growing expenditure demands;

I am here to lobby for imagination,  innovation and invigoration of talents that are found in the pool intellects in our country.

I visited University of Goroka on 17th of September after the 44th flagraising to ring home a point that country is not grown only from Waigani and Port Moresby and politicians.

Work for us must go on all time.

I commended UOG for their dedication to the course of training teachers and I lobbied for them to train quality teachers and offer better recommendations as to how we improve least-costly but top-quality education to our country.

I am again here at Unitech not by coincidence but by choice.

Unitech is an institution that has contributed immensely to our country.

Borrowing from Chancellor Dame Kekedo’s words, you train mostly "blue collar" workforce that contributes directly to the economy,  as employees or a growing number of employers gained their education, training or experiences here.

I thank Chancellor, Pro VCs, Vice Chancellor, council members, faculty members past and present , auxiliary staff past and present, and all friends of Unitech.

I also thank institutions like SPISARD and others who continue to collaborate with Unitech to offer program and solutions to many inherent needs we have in PNG.

I thank SPISARD and Unitech for this partnership,  especially when iam an advocate on the propensity of our country in agriculture.

In world of eight billion people growing into 10 billion into the future, in a country of eight million people growing into 10 million soon, agriculture means food security and food security is economic security.

Just like the then known world running to Egypt 4000 years ago due to famine, just like agriculture revolution nations transformed into industrialisation in the 1900s.

Contemporary global issues like population increase, climate change and unpredictable catastrophic weather in our Asia-Pacific region will mean we are not short of markets for agriculture produces both locally and offshore.

This university is one of the foundational cornerstones of our country.

 As Government, we are here to give you our best endeavors in the context of equitable budget support to all our key economic enabling sectors that we will support 2020 and beyond.

But I lobby your support, you have the intelligence and talent to be innovative.

Look for ways to use resources you have in your schools and the university to be self-sustaining and what Government gives you can be complementary.

We can be the richest black Christian nation on earth where no child is left behind.

I believe agriculture holds the key to the economic and social formula we searching for.

It’s time we take back our country by all of us working together from where ever God has placed us, deploying our time and talent to the best of our abilities and ceasing from corruption and complacency.

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