by Bethanie Harriman – EM TV News, Lae
Papua New Guinea Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Tommy Tomscoll has announced another lot of government bans on imported agricultural produce.
A ban has been imposed on imported potatoes, capsicum, onion bulbs and cabbage; a move that aims to protect local farmers and the market they sell their produce to.
Tomscoll said the move is geared toward putting wealth into the 80 per cent of PNG’s population who live in rural areas of the country.
“I have put pen to paper to protect our local market,” said Minister Tomscoll during his speech to stakeholders at NARI’s Alex Quarterman Hall, on August 12.
The ban on imported vegetables will put a stop to those importing from other countries, allowing local farmers to sell their produce to the local consumer market.
This ban follows that of the poultry ban that was imposed earlier this year by the national government.
Minister Tomscoll said the ban on poultry follows that imposed by Austrailia, New Zealand and Fiji.
“What we have done is, we have only joined the queue,” said Minister Tomscoll to an applauding audience.
The NARI show that began on the same day the Minister made the announcement was focused on the development of agricultural small to medium enterprises through empowering rural populations.
Taking centre stage at the show was rice development involving rural farmers.
Rice has a dedicated consumer market that amplifies its potential in the development of agricultural SME’s in PNG’s rural areas.
NARI is introducing high yielding rice varieties to local farmers, while Trukai Industries, the rice manufacturing giant has become a buyer for local rice from PNG farmers who plant and harvest the crop.
Morobe, Central and West New Britain are three provinces already producing rice for Trukai Industries.
Rice imports are expected to decrease in the next five years though, with over 150,000 tonnes of rice imported to Papua New Guinea since 1990.