The “PNG Rice Policy 2015 – 2030” is aimed firstly at promoting the cultivation of domestic rice to feed our people; secondly, by ensuring monetary savings for the government by reducing foreign rice import bill; and thirdly, by supporting initiatives in the future to export locally grown rice that will earn foreign exchange for PNG.
After 100 years of experimenting rice farming in PNG, there is now compelling evidence confirming that PNG is able to grow rice commercially to meet its domestic market requirements, as well as export rice. Currently, PNG imports about 400,000 tons of rice, valued at some K600 million annually. This translates to around 85% of our domestic rice demand.
In response, the Government decided to increase domestic rice production by promoting and supporting large scale, highly mechanized irrigated commercial farming.
Currently, there are no large scale mechanised rice farming projects in PNG. Given the lack of interest by local and foreign investors to commit to large scale, highly mechanized, commercial farming in PNG over the last 47 years, the Government further decided that any investor willing to do so would be accorded pioneer status and granted appropriate and relevant incentives, and concessions to establish and develop during its infancy stage of up to 10 years.
These incentives and concessions are aimed at assisting new investors as new players entering into the high risk, low value end of the rice business in PNG to help them build brand names, customer base, and meaningful relationships based on non-price factors such as product quality, service, patented features, environmental and civic involvement.
A Joint Declaration on Agriculture Cooperation was signed between PNG and the Republic of the Philippines during Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s visit to the Philippines on May 16 2018. Under this declaration, a demonstration rice farm was established on a 25 hectares land at the Pacific Adventist University outside Port Moresby. This farm will be on display for the APEC Leaders to visit during the November APEC Leader’s Summit. Under this arrangement the Embassy of Republic of Philippines in PNG will arrange with Investors from Philippines to come and partner with our landowners through Joint Venture arrangement to grow and market rice. Rice import can be replaced and we can export to the Republic of the Philippines, as they have already indicated that they will import surplus rice from PNG.
The Chinese have already signed agreements with the Government to grow rice in Eastern Highlands and Western Highlands provinces through the China-Papua New Guinea Integrated Agriculture Industrial Park. The project and financing agreements for these will be signed by the two leaders during the November Leaders’ Summit.
Israeli company Innovative Agro Industries (IAI) is organizing rice and grain cultivation in the Sepik Plains.
On the local scene PNG’s long-term traditional partner, Trukai Industry Limited is in a big way partnering with land owners in the Markham valley and very shortly they will move into other high-altitude areas in Baiyer, Jimi and Ruti Valleys in Western Highlands. Only three weeks ago, Trukai launched their Hamamas brand rice in Port Moresby. This new brand of rice is locally grown from the Markham and will be appearing in the shelves of major supermarkets soon.
The Government also has plans to revive the Bereina rice project in the Central Province and extend into other provinces.
The Productive Partnership in Agriculture Project is coordinated by DAL and implemented by CIC and Cocoa Board of PNG. The total value of the project is US$91 million, funded by the World Bank and International Fund for Agriculture Development. It commenced in 2010 and will end by mid 2019.
The objective is to improve the livelihood of the smallholder cocoa and coffee producers in Momase, New Guinea islands and the Highland provinces.
Source: Extract from Ministerial Statement