PNG lobby group backs minister's call for more sustainable industries
PNG lobby group backs minister's call for more sustainable industries.
A Papua New Guinean lobby group is backing the Agriculture Minister's call for a shift of focus from the minerals industry to local agriculture.
The Bismarck Ramu Group says the minister, Tommy Tomscoll, is right to say the country's economy should move away from large-scale industries such as mining and oil and gas.
Mr Tomscoll has told media developments in the extractive industries have left the agriculture sector near collapse.
A spokesperson for the non-governmental organisation, John Chitoa, told Amelia Langford about the need to focus on more sustainable industries.
JOHN CHITOA: Papua New Guinea is an agricultural economy. 80% of our people survive using their land and their agriculture as a means of survival, as a means of putting food on the table. So we think it's a very good idea, because our land and agriculture is basically the main employer in PNG if you compare the current model of development where there's large-scale logging, mining, fishing and all that. What we see is that in the industries like logging, mining, commercial fishing, a lot of our people are not benefiting. Although we have a lot of resources, most of these resources have been depleted at an alarming rate. And these resources are not translating to elevation of the standard of living of our people.
AMELIA LANGFORD: What would you like the government to do here?
JC: Firstly, focus its attention on agriculture, on local agriculture. Secondly, to make way for agriculture to take place in PNG to assist PNG, to put in proper infrastructure - roads and bridges in rural areas in PNG, so that landowners and people in the villages can get their produce to market. That's how our people are surviving. Most of our people are surviving that way. Very few people work for large-scale industries. It's very few.
AL: You want the minister to go ahead with a review of the sector?
JC: We strongly recommend and push the minister to review the sector and also to revive it. And we would also like to ask all the other leaders in this country to support the agriculture minister in this, because that's the way forward. That's what we see as the way forward for PNG. If not, what we see is we'll be just like other countries who have fallen on the same mistakes by basically focusing on the mineral sector.
AL: Yes. If the government continues to focus on that area, what would that mean for the local people and the land?
JC: While the government is focusing on the mineral sector our people are not benefiting. And it will be worst-case scenario if the government doesn't change its course right now. So it's a call to government to change its course. If not we are doomed to failure. That's what we see at the moment. So the government really needs to make its critical decision and support what Tommy Tomscoll is saying. And that's what we believe is the way forward for this country.
John Chitoa says the production of palm oil should not be considered local agriculture.
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