By Theckla Gunga – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Financial Agreement on the European Union funding of K340 million kina for the Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade Project or STREIT Program has been signed in Port Moresby today.
The funding is for agricultural activities specifically to assist Cocoa and Vanilla growers including Fisheries project in East Sepik, two districts of West Sepik, Madang and Milne Bay provinces.
The signing today concludes two years of discussions on how the projects under this funding will be implemented, and which projects in the agricultural sector it will focus on.
And East Sepik province, including two districts in West Sepik, was identified as having the potential to grow cocoa and vanilla including fisheries activities.
Three areas that are in line with the main valve chain of the Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade Project or STIEIT program.
Roger Kara, the European Union Development Fund Program Director, provided an outline of when negotiations for this funding started and the provinces it will cover.
Road projects will be included in the program so cocoa and vanilla farmers will use to bring their produce to town.
The last few weeks have been tumultuous in the lead up to today, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird, who had been involved in initial discussions with EU since 2017, expressed initial disappointment in the delay by Minister Maru on the signing with the grant deadline nearing its June 30 deadline.
Last week, on FM 100s Talkback, Governor Bird, hit out at Maru, concerned that it was Europe’s taxpayers, funding the projects.
Minister Maru defending the delay staying, negotiations were not, telling reporters, in discussions with EU he wanted to include road projects in the funding.
Maru said any funding that comes into the country through donors or development partners, according to Law, 50 percent must be for infrastructure developments.