PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 10) - The call for more incentives for the agriculture sector must be answered in the 2004 budget if Papua New Guinea is to see any real change in the rural areas.

In his "Green Revolution" address to the business community in Kimbe recently, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare announced major incentives for agriculture, giving a clear direction as to where the Government was heading.

Those incentives and more should be addressed in the 2004 budget.

This week, at the National Development Forum, Sir Michael was emphatic about his commitment to see progress when he said: "Let us stop talking about what we have talked about. Let us do what we have talked about."

One of the country’s leading agriculture leaders, Nick Thompson — the managing director of New Britain Palm Oil — made the point that PNG is one of only very few countries in the world where the Government does not provide protection for the agriculture sector. Yes, this is the country that says agriculture is the backbone of its economy! How contradictory!

No wonder we have not seen any major investment in agriculture over the last 15 years. Sir Michael is determined that the Government will implement its policies to boost economic development over the next 46 months in office.

It is now up to everyone to work around the clock to make this happen. And what Mr Thompson and other industry leaders say has to be taken seriously. There is no more time for just listening and not do anything.

As the National Development Forum got underway, we had news of tons of coffee rotting away in one of the most remote parts of the Northern Province due to bad road conditions. In the lead-up to the forum, Highlands leaders called for immediate funding of the upgrading of the Highlands Highway.

Agriculture development cannot happen without good infrastructure such as roads and bridges. These have to be developed first before agriculture development takes place.

The nation will be richer if everyone does what they have been talking about for years.

October 10, 2003

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