SPICING UP THE ECONOMY IN PNG’S SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (December 26, 2000 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---If all aspects of a spice project, particularly vanilla, are sorted out, Komo-Magarima electorate in the Southern Highlands province is in for a handsome revenue collection of K5.46 million (US$1.8 million) in five years.

The project implementation plan compiled by the Agriculture and Livestock Department was presented to Komo-Magarima MP Alfred Kaiabe at Parliament House.

The feasibility study of the project was sponsored by Mr. Kaiabe with a grant of US$6,680 early this year.

According to the project plan highlighted by department secretary Miri Setae, an input of K1.86 million (US$621,000) is needed to get the project going.

But Mr. Setae said to generate the projected revenue, concerted efforts are needed from all stakeholders in the project.

Mr. Setai said the crops identified such as vanilla, chili, ginger, cardamom and pyrethrum have high value and if properly grown and marketed, they could fetch a handsome income for the province.

He said Mr. Kaiabe and his local level government have shown initiative.

However, the provincial government has yet to recognize spice's potential role in the economic development of the province.

The climate and the soil is suitable for spice growing and the price of 'a' grade vanilla is much higher than the prices of major cash crops.

Mr. Setae said sustainability of such a project was very important, as it required a viable market network, infrastructure development and commitment on the part of the farmers.

He said the department would continue to provide technical assistance to the project. Mr. Setae also said similar agricultural development project plans would be formulated for each of the 89 districts next year.

He said by July, each MP should be able to implement these projects through their five-year district development plans.

Overall, the agriculture sector has not been performing well in the past years due to low commodity prices in the world market and lack of government support for sustainability.

The actual contributions made by agriculture, particularly the main cash crops to real gross domestic product growth in 1999 was 1.1 percent, the estimated growth for this year is 0.3 percent, while the projected growth next year is 1.9 percent.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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