PAPUA New Guinea’s agricultural exporters will be aided in finding new markets as an Australian aid program is introduced to the nation, its proponents say.

The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program has been successfully running since 2011 in Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu with funding from Australia and New Zealand.

PHAMA provides practical assistance to help increase horticultural and agricultural exports, as well as helping them meet the standards and requirements of importers.

This could be creating a development needs and exports plan for a commodity sector, helping with ongoing improvements to cocoa and coffee quality standards and working on quarantine compliance awareness for artifacts and handicrafts.

PNG secretary for agriculture and livestock Vele Ila’ava said hoped PHAMA would develop a strong relationship with the ministry and other technical organisations.

“We are very hopeful that PHAMA will help us address some of the technical market access issues that continue to confront PNG,” he said.

While over 85 per cent of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas, only 3% of cultivated land is used for export cash cropping, the Australian government said.

Australian High Commission minister counsellor Rod Hilton said Australia will provide A$5 million through its aid program to bring PHAMA to PNG.

“Through our development partnership with PNG, Australia is increasing assistance for private sector-led economic growth in PNG to create jobs and reduce poverty,” he said.

In PNG, PHAMA will be implemented by AECOM and key partners will include the National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority, the Fresh Produce Development Agency, the National Fisheries Authority, exporters and commodity Boards.