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Agricultural innovations crucial for development, says Australian Consul General

Innovative agriculture is the way forward for sustainable and broad-based development in Papua New Guinea, says Paul Murphy, Australia' Lae-based Consul General.

Murphy said innovative agriculture must be supported by appropriate policies and strategies, including research and development.

The new Consul General, who was posted to Lae early this year, made the statement when speaking as the guest of honour at the 2017 Agricultural Innovations Show at NARI in Lae on May 4.

He said the choice of this year’s theme of “Innovations and Inventions for Prosperous and Food Secure PNG: Research to Practice” is commendable.

"This theme is highly appropriate given the fundamentally important role of agribusiness – which as many would know is the primary means of employment and sustenance for most Papua New Guineans," Murphy said.

The Consulate General said NARI has been innovative continually in its research and development efforts to address many of the agricultural challenges in the country.

Such efforts are crucial as agriculture supports more than 85% of PNG’s 7-8 million people and accounts up to 25% of national GDP, Murphy said.

"This is in spite of the fact that the non-renewable sector (mainly oil, gas, and minerals) has become leading contributor to the GDP in recent times."

He also stated that Australia has been a strong supporter of agricultural development in PNG, including NARI, for a long time.

"Through its partnership with ACIAR [Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research], NARI has benefited from improved knowledge and skills; development and release of new scientific technologies; and support for improved capacity at the research and institute levels, including through ACIAR scholarships."

Murphy said approximately 30 per cent of NARI’s projects are funded through ACIAR, including current nine research collaborations valued at approximately A$7.9 million. The projects cover key areas in:  

  1. increasing market access and value addition,
  2. increasing crop protection,
  3. helping to manage natural resources such as soil fertility and climate change adaption,
  4. empowering women and girls; and
  5. support towards horticulture, for example sweet potatoes and traditional vegetables.

"Through our collaborative research, NARI has released seven new technologies developed under ACIAR projects to address farmers needs to improve production in the case of peanuts, crop disease management particularly with taro, cost effective feeding options for broilers and improving food security with drought resistant potatoes."

He said ACIAR’s key research priorities with PNG focus on enhancing livelihoods by improving incomes and market access. An example is the Transformative Agriculture Enterprise Development Program which covers five projects centred on fostering private sector development in agriculture and which also have a strong focus on women’s economic empowerment.

NARI is the PNG agency leading in four of the five projects:

  1. Enhancing Private Sector Lead Development of the Galip Nut Industry
  2. PNG Women’s Business Acumen Study
  3. Sweet Potato Private Sector Led-value Chain Project
  4. PNG Cocoa development Project

Murphy also highlighted that as part of the 2015-16 drought response, Australia funded NARI to assist communities in PNG to recover from the drought to the tune of just under one million Australian dollars.

NARI undertook to multiply and distribute drought tolerant and early maturing planting materials including seeds to communities severely affected by drought between October 2015 and December 2016.

Murphy said NARI successfully met all the milestones under the activity, and even delivered beyond the milestones in reaching out to more drought affected communities in collaboration with NGOs, churches and multilaterals.

He commended the Institute Council, management and staff; and NARI’s partners and stakeholders for greater successes and accomplishments in innovative agriculture.

 

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