USE AGRICULTURE TO FIGHT PNG CRIME, SAYS COUNCIL

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 12, 1999 - Post Courier)---The crime problem in Papua New Guinea can be contained by the agriculture sector, but there is not enough attention given to this area, Rural Industries Council President Peter Colton said last week.

Mr. Colton told Friday’s crime summit that most of Papua New Guinea’s crime problems had been caused by a lack of attention to the agriculture sector by successive governments.

He said the volume of production for major cash crops, including coffee, cocoa and copra, had remained low over the years and most young people could not be encouraged to stay at home and work on the land.

"In my view, most of the solutions for our problems lie in the agriculture sector.

"It is a sector which successive governments have given low priority but it has the potential to lift this country in a big way," he said.

Lawyer Michael Wilson agreed, saying the agriculture sector had been ignored over the years and there had been no major developments in this vital sector.

"Rural development is necessary in the country to prevent urban drift, poverty and disillusionment as is presently suffered by people in the villages and in undeveloped areas," he said.

Speaking on behalf of the coffee industry, Mr. Wilson gave an overview of the effects of lawlessness in the industry. Mr. Wilson said trespass and theft were the two main factors that had created lawlessness in the coffee industry.

He also said the stealing of coffee "cherries" had affected the profitability levels of growers and their ability to pay bank loans, which eventually lead to frustration and tribal fights.

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