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By Elizabeth Vuvu

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 13) – Agriculture must be a compulsory subject in the Papua New Guinea school curriculum as the young generation is quickly losing the art of living off the land and seas and is rapidly becoming a "fast-food" generation.

University of Vudal Vice-Chancellor Prof Phillip Siaguru made the remarks yesterday during the Gazelle forum at the campus’ Kairak Hall.

"We must make agriculture compulsory in our curriculum and begin to teach it in primary schools up to the university level.

"This is fundamentally vital … these skills must be passed on to the young generation as they are losing the art of living off the land and seas and are rapidly becoming a ‘fast-food’ generation," he added.

Prof Siaguru said in a country where there was no social security, the basic community lifestyle of working and living off the land must be organised, protected and sustained.

He said consequently, the sub-themes had tried to capture the spirit of community independence and food security at local levels and there was a need to redefine commercial agriculture by developing the skills and infrastructure that will encourage trade flow once again.

Prof Siaguru said the two-day forum would set the scene by discussing the national, regional and provincial perspective of the national agriculture plan.

He said since the 1980s, commercial plantations had been on the decline due to rising labour and overhead costs coupled with very unstable world market prices.

"One only needs to drive down to Lassul Bay along the Inland Baining and see an approximate of about 4,000ha of cocoa and copra just simply rotting away because of poor road systems," he said.

Prof Siaguru questioned whether the Government system was capable of maintaining this commercial production.

He said the reality was that, by organising smallholder system of agriculture, we provided the key to further growth and increased livelihood of the rural majority.

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