PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PINA/Marianas Variety, Jan. 27) - Prime Minister Michael Somare said developments in Papua New Guinea agriculture, including privatization of copra marketing, will benefit millions of rural people.

Copra growers were now getting prompt payments for their produce and the mills in Rabaul and Madang are again operating at full capacity, he said.

Said Somare: "Both mills will have only one major challenge to contemplate — how much and how soon can they expand their capacity and add value to an important agricultural product."

Speaking at the launch of the PNG Yearbook 2003 in Parliament House, Somare said Agriculture Minister Moses Maladina has also been working hard to reactivate coffee and cocoa industries.

They were also trying to generate greater self-reliance in food production.

Somare said: "I am confident that many of these measures will encourage the private sector and our landowners to play a more proactive role instead of waiting for government to provide everything they need, which is an impossible task."

He said his government’s bold start has led several commentators to suggest the economy will return to positive growth after three successive years of recession.

He said construction was underway on the Napa oil refinery and that New Britain Palm Oil’s palm oil refinery was nearing completion. "Both are first for this country," he said.

The previous week, Somare said, he had launched the construction of a major tuna loining project in Wewak with another similar plant to be built in Lae.

January 27, 2003

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