BY MATTHEW VARI
The Sepik Plains special economic zone project is set to kick off next month in the Yangoru-Saussia District’s portion of the vast plain area set for development by the government.
Signing of the shareholding agreement took place between the developer Innovative Agro Industries (IAI) and the State to secure its K15 million 50 per cent stake in the project.
The breakup of the equity saw the state hand over 10 per cent of its stake as free equity to its partners the East Sepik People and the rest to be with Kumul Agriculture Limited (KAL) under Kumul Consolidated Holdings, for the K30 million project.
Five per cent of the project will be for former traditional landowner, 2.5 per cent to the provincial government of East Sepik, and 2.5 per cent to Yangoru-Saussia District Development Authority.
A pleased Minister for National Planning and Yangoru-Saussia MP Richard Maru said the trust in the ability of the Israeli company to deliver as it has done in the country already is in no doubt.
“If we are able to transfer the Sepik plains with nearly a million hectares you could imagine the potential of this place.
“We only needed a partner who had the technology, the scientific knowhow and who is prepared to stick it out in Papua New Guinea,” he said.
IAI Executive Director Illan Weiss said the use of KAL is the way forward for Public Private partnership in the agro sector.
“We are going to start with chickens because it is a valuable protein that the communities need. It is an import replacement into the region from other regions; it is quiet a fast money maker from start to finish.
“Grains – I have been saying for a long time that PNG imports its stock feed and it is 60 to 80 per cent of livestock cost and we need to end this vicious cycle because we might as well import the animals if we are importing the feed.
“Our part in the cocoa production is drying the processing and the end result is to ensure sustainability, traceability, quality and prices and building a complete value chain for everyone,” he said.
Construction will start in the last week of November 2018 with employment and outgrowing income opportunities to be benefits thousands of people.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill made special mention of thanks to landowners from the province and pointed out the importance of the project was more than East Sepik but of the entire country.