Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu has pledged his support for the proposed Bulldog oil palm project between the Morobe and Gulf Provinces.
Governor Saonu said the Morobe Provincial Government and the province’s Members of Parliament are behind the major impact agriculture project which will bring immense benefits to the province and the economy.
At the same time, he called on the relevant government departments to cooperate with his government, landowners and all stakeholders to move the project forward because it was taking too long.
Governor Saonu was speaking during a meeting with Department of Agriculture and Livestock officials in Port Moresby last week to discuss major agriculture projects. He was accompanied by the MP for Menyamya Thomas Pelika, MP for Tewai-Siassi Dr Kobby Bomareo, MP for Nawae Kennedy Wenge, and acting provincial administrator, Ms Sheila Harou.
DAL’s deputy secretary for agriculture development, Mr Stephen Mombi, and director for southern region, Mr Leka Mou, led the DAL team and briefed the Morobe delegation on the progress of Bulldog oil palm project as well as other projects being implemented or proposed for Morobe. The Chairman of the Ngoena Bulldog Oil Palm Ltd, Mr Mathew Akama, also spoke during the meeting.
Mr Saonu said agriculture is important for the economy to prosper and believed that Morobe has enormous untapped potential for agriculture development but needed more support from the National Government. He said the oil palm project has been talked about too long and this is the time for action “enough of stories”.
“Morobe Provincial Government is in support of the proposed oil palm project – we will work closely with relevant government agencies. I think there is now support from everybody to get things going and the responsibility now is to make firm decisions.”
Mr Pelika said the oil palm development will create more opportunities for economic development and will open up remote areas and bring basic services to the rural communities. He said this is a major agriculture impact project that should be fully supported to go all the way.
Mr Akama said he was pleased with the Morobe Governor and his delegation for visiting DAL and appealed for their continued support. “I appeal to you to support this project which will benefit Morobe and Gulf provinces, and the whole country and bring greater benefits to the economy.”
Mr Akama said that since the pre-feasibility study conducted more than 20 years ago had indicated the suitability of growing oil palm there have been numerous proposals, submissions, visits and meetings held, but little progress has been made.
An estimated 100,000 people are likely to benefit if the project becomes a reality and supporters of the project, especially former and current local oil palm growers working in other similar projects, village and community leaders say they will not give up fighting for development.
The proposed project is located on the border of Morobe, Gulf, Central and Eastern Highlands provinces, and has the potential to become a major impact oil palm project similar to oil palm projects in West New Britain and Oro provinces.
DAL officials agreed that Morobe has potential in agriculture including livestock, coffee, cocoa, food crops, taro, mushroom and others, and hence there should be further dialogue and linkages down to the districts. They said Bulldog project is a good one that needed more funding and political support at both national and provincial level.