Acting Secretary for the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) Daniel Kombuk says the country requires an agriculture sector plan that is “inclusive, simple, measurable, achievable and realistic” for sustainable agriculture development.
Mr Kombuk has therefore called for positive inputs from stakeholders; including provinces, agricultural industries, farmers, commodity boards and development partners to assist DAL to come up with a sector plan that will transform the agriculture sector.
Mr Kombuk made the remarks when speaking at the National Agriculture Strategic Plan (NASP) workshop for the Southern Region held at Dixie’s Bungalow outside Port Moresby during 25-26 April 2019. Representatives from Milne Bay, Oro, Central, Gulf and Western provinces attended the two-day forum. The consultations were to continue thereafter with commodity boards, sector agencies and development partners in the nation’s capital.
Mr Kombuk said there was no other sector that can deliver economic development that is inclusive and sustainable as expected by the Government’s Medium Term Development Plan III 2018-2022 (MTDP III), but only the agriculture sector. He said agriculture is the backbone of the economy and has a huge potential to be sustainable. Agriculture supports over 85 per cent of the country’s population and is the only sector to sustain the economy once all the minerals, gas and oil are gone, he added.
Mr Kombuk reiterated that the objectives set in the MTDP III that affect agriculture include increasing internal revenue on a sustainable basis, increase employment opportunities, increase PNG ownership and benefits in the formal sector, and support provinces and districts to generate revenue.
Mr Kombuk said there are many challenges in the agriculture sector, however, the new ten year – NASP will assess the challenges and make appropriate recommendations to address them.
“At the same time, there had been agriculture funds parked elsewhere and will continue to be so if we as a sector do not get our sector in order. The NASP is the beginning of getting the sector in order.”
Mr Kombuk said lack of funding may be another challenge, however, the sector must prove to the Government that it can achieve and produce the desired results. He said NASP can create the demand for investment financing in the agriculture sector.
“The Minister and I expect a sector plan that creates demand for more financial resources to the agriculture sector that will be used to impact the lives of 6.8 million (85% of population) directly.
“Some of the key development outcomes we expect resulting from the plan relate to increase in production, exports, employment, householder income, food security and private sector investment and growth in the sector.”
Mr Kombuk said NASP is expected to focus on strategic positioning of DAL as a key policy oversight and coordination and whole-of-sector performance accountability agency, appropriate strategies and mechanisms for effective coordination of the sector, priority investment focus areas for specific public investment programmes, performance management framework to manage and coordinate implementation of the plan and account to Government and other financiers on performance.
“Therefore, it is up to us to ensure through this sector plan that agriculture takes its deserved place (that deserved place being the centre) of all development decision-making in the country.
“The MTDP 111 expects us as a sector to deliver on the targets set and account for performance on an annual basis. This plan provides the framework in which we coordinate our individual efforts for a collective outcome and benefits.”