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By Joseph Lakane

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 30) –Work animals like oxen and cows could play a big role in transporting farm produce to Papua New Guinea markets, says a Chinese energy expert.

Liu Zhaoxiang, of Fanchang Consultancy Ltd., was reacting to PNG Agriculture and Livestock Minister Mathew Siune’s complaints about the country’s poor transport system made worse by the high cost of hauling farm products.

Mr Liu has complimented the Somare Government for giving priority to an export-driven economy and its emphasis on improving rural transport.

He said the policy "is correct" but he suggested the inclusion of work animals in the national transport system plan.

"The energy provided by work animals such as horses, oxen, cows, water buffaloes and donkeys is renewable and pollution free," Mr Liu observed. "These work animals can be easily maintained because they feed on grass which is everywhere on the land," he added.

Mr Liu said that animal manure or dung is a good organic fertilizer for small –scale farming and since these animals live for many years, farming would be more affordable to many rural people.

Mr Liu also said these work animals were used for transporting heavy loads in ancient times and even today many developing countries still use it.

Work animals live well in the country so the farmers should be encouraged to raise them for transport purposes, he added.

Mr Liu also said that tractors and work animals do the same job of plowing fields and transporting people. But, unlike animals, tractors run on expensive fuel, he said.

Mr Liu stressed that he was suggesting the use of work animals in rural areas while the country is trying to develop economically.

October 1, 2004

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