BY FRANKLIN KOLMA
Speaking on the matter during Question Time, Mr Allen said that representatives of the Philippines Government and the PNG Government launched the pilot project at 14 Mile outside Port Moresby two weeks ago.
He said that 25 hectors of land has been cleared and that the allocated land is in the process of being fertilized and prepared for rice cultivation.
“Land has been cleared and work is underway.
“This is a government to government arrangement, it is not a private investment,” he explained.
Mr Allen said the main reason this arrangement was made earlier this year by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte was to ensure PNG has ‘Food Security.’
He explained that currently, the 70 per cent of imported rice coming into the country comes from Vietnam, Taiwan or Australia. He furthered that these countries while being important providers of the staple food, were only doing it because they already have met Food Security quotas in their respective countries.
Mr Allen said PNG society was heavily reliant on rice as a source of basic food and nourishment and that as such, the country needed to have the capability of rice production domestically.
“Climate change is very real and has already started affecting the traditional food crop production of various countries.
“What if Australia and Taiwan decide to stop providing rice exports to PNG?” asked the Minster.
He said that the government was embarking on mutual agricultural agreements like the rice project with Philippines to ensure that the country learns proper sustainable methods of rice production that can then be used by native PNG citizens and the government to guarantee food security.