Large Agriculture Projects Planned For PNG’s Sepik Plains

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Area to be PNG’s biggest agricultural investment: trade minister

By Sheila Malken

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Dec. 4, 2013) – 100,000 hectares for oil palm, cattle and rice will be developed in Papua New Guinea’s Sepik Plains along with other agriculture projects covering Wewak, Yangoru-Saussia, Angoram, Maprik, Wosera-Gawi and Ambunti-Dreikirkir, Richard Maru says.

Maru, who is Minister for Trade, Commerce, and Industry and MP for Yangoru-Saussia, disclosed this during the presentation of K2 million [US$766,766] to PNG Power for the completion of a rural electrification project in his district. Work has already started on this special economic zone of East Sepik, which will basically cover all the districts of the province in which PNG Power will provide counterpart funding to complete the 20km of powerlines.

A K5 million [US$1.9 million] road upgrade work has started between Nagam Adventist High School and Urimo, where the project will be based, in Yangoru-Saussia district.

Maru said along the plains there were about a million hectares of flat land, both dry and wet.

This land represented the biggest undeveloped agriculture land in the whole of the country.

"This massive land has been undeveloped since independence and it is the desire of the O’Neill/Dion government to develop the land into Papua New Guinea’s biggest agriculture farm," Maru said.

"The project will be the single biggest agriculture investment since independence with an initial $US0.5 billion to be invested by the developer, including the PNG government who will take up 30% equity in the project."

Maru, on behalf of the people of East Sepik and his district, thanked the government for approving the initial tranche of K50 million [US$19.2 million] in the 2014 Budget for the critical infrastructure to support the development of the Sepik Plains oil palm project which was recently approved.

CEO of PNG Power John Tangit said PNG Power was pleased that Maru had seen the need to partner with them to deliver electricity for industry under the Sepik special economic zone and the continuation of the district rural electrification rollout.

"PNG Power is committed to have the power line and power connected to Urimo by early next year so the work can start on the oil palm project," said Tangit.

Tangit said PNG power would partner with MPs who were passionate about developing their electorates like Maru.

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