By Julie Badui Owa – EMTV News, Lae
Agriculture was one of the hot topics discussed today at the National Planning Consultative Summit in Lae.
Market access for cash crops has been a challenge for local farmers from cooperative organisations for years.
A cocoa farmer from Lower Watut cooperative in Bulolo District, Nakatu Waoho’o, said they produce over 8 tonnes of cocoa quarterly but it is difficult to take to the markets because of bad road conditions.
The farmers have a plot of land to an average of 0.37 hectares. They initiated the cooperative system in order to secure market.
For years, they’ve struggled with poor roads leading to their villages where cocoa is grown.
The Planning Summit today talked about agriculture and roads. But the problems remain.
For the cocoa farmers, this summit must address long-term needs, however, it is understood that the Works Department is also facing significant challenges.
The presentations also drew a strong reaction from Menyamya MP, Thomas Pelika.
The Secretary for Works, David Wereh said during his presentation today that road maintenance alone would cost K35 million per year.
The inadequate funds for road maintenance has led to the difficulties in fixing roads.
Wereh says, if these problems are not addressed, PNG’s road system could collapse.
Director for Institute of National Affairs, Paul Barker, says this requires the government, civil societies and private sector’s approach to improving developments in the country.