The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, John Simon, has said agricultural activities in Papua New Guinea could help the country achieve economic independence in five to ten years.

Over 80 per cent of people in PNG live in rural communities, and Mr Simon said that about 90 per cent of them were involved in agriculture. He said the government and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) wanted to help these people increase production output and provide more markets for produce.

“The DAL will give economic independence to the country in the next five to 10 years because the Government has been supporting the department with funding to improve the market and export,” the minister said.

Mr Simon said that his department had been improving the agricultural sector with several initiatives. For example, the DAL had also provided price support programmes for agricultural products and cash crops to improve production and raise prices.

In addition, the minister said that exporters had been warned by the government not to cheat on prices and to be fair with farmers. Minister Simon said the warning to exporters and price support programmes would result in higher total exports of agricultural products.

“We knew the market prices, so we told the exporters to pay the right price to the farmers and producers to increase production,” he said.

The minister gave the example of coffee production in PNG. He said that the country previously received around K350 million to K450 million a year from coffee exports, but this year, that would rise to K800 million.

Minister Simon said, “We are paying better prices for coffee and cocoa, so you can see the production started to increase. We are now encouraging the people to grow cocoa and coffee to benefit from the Government support programme.”

Image source: Department of Agriculture and Livestock