Governor clarifies Sepik plains projects

The East Sepik Governor says proper distinction should be made between actual projects, projects under discussion and projects which are in actual production in the Sepik Plains.

Governor Allan Bird made the clarification in response to an article published on Loop PNG regarding national interest in the Sepik Plains.

During the budget presentation of the East Sepik Provincial Budget to Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister, Charles Abel, the Governor responded to comments made by Abel regarding significant funding to his province for agricultural projects by the National Government.

“Whilst we welcome all investments in our province, it is important that the proper distinction be made between actual projects, projects under discussion and projects which are in actual production.

“The ESPG should not be held responsible for projects where funds have been expended by agencies other than the ESPG and for which we were never involved in. That is the point I made to Minister Abel to clear any doubts about the extent of our involvement or lack thereof,” said the Governor in a statement.

Bird said the provincial government is currently assisting with the development of 200,000 hectares of oil palm by a private sector player in Wewak and Angoram districts.

They have also been approached by two large private sector organisations to grow rice and corn, which they are actively pursuing those investments.

In addition, he said the ESPG is working closely with the EU on a grant through EDF 11 which will see the planting of around 65 million cocoa pod borer-resistant clones and other components across the province.

The cocoa program will involve approximately 100,000 small holder farmers in the province. The ESPG has committed K1.8m to support the cocoa program this year.

Meanwhile, Governor Bird said he was fortunate and privileged to work on both the Nine-Mile vegetable farm and the Ilimo Dairy Farm projects as the only PNG consultant prior to entering Parliament.

“Agriculture is a very difficult industry to be in and requires innovation to succeed: Nobody does agriculture innovation better than Ilan Weiss and his team at Innovative Agro Industry.

“They have my utmost respect and confidence and any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect.”

Cedric Patjole