K3m subsidy for fresh produce

Vegetable farmers from the Highlands, Madang and Morobe can now supply the nation’s capital with fresh produce without having to pay for freight.

This was made possible with the signing of a K3 million agreement between the government and a Lae-based shipping service provider.

This State of Emergency intervention was announced on Monday, April 27th, by the National Planning Minister, Sam Basil, following the signing of a service level agreement by the SOE Controller, David Manning, department secretary Koney Samuel and Bismarck Maritime Ltd chief executive officer, Jamie Sharp.

On Wednesday, May 13th, the first shipment of 49 containers, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, was received at the Port Moresby Bismarck yard by Minister Basil and secretary Samuel.

Basil said this freight subsidy initiative is part of the government’s economic stimulus package to ensure cash income generation at the village producers’ level, and among buying and transport agents.

A dry container can store up to 110 bags of kaukau at 65 kilograms each while Basil said a refrigerated container, with its temperature set at 5 degrees Celsius, is reserved for fresh produce with shorter shelf lives such as greens, carrots, round onions and fruits.  

It is estimated that between K50 and K60 million worth of goods will be transported under this scheme.

Basil said the dry container costs K2,600 while the refrigerated container costs K3,600 – a difference of K1,000.

The National Planning Minister called on the political leaders of the highlands region, Madang and Morobe to use their district services improvement program funds and help their farmers pack the containers for shipment to Port Moresby.

Farmers can ship their fresh produce without paying for freight, while those in Port Moresby are encouraged to sell the goods at decent prices.

The government believes that this initiative can help relieve and revitalise income-earning opportunities for village producers, SMEs involved as agents for food buying and transportation and ultimately, supply fresh, organic food to consumers in Port Moresby and eventually, the New Guinea Islands.

The Minister further revealed that there are plans in place to subsidise the transportation of cash crops from the Highlands Highway, the subsidization of third-level airlines and other shipping firms.

(Minister Sam Basil with Port Moresby cabbage buyers; the cabbages were supplied by Mt Hagen farmers)

Carmella Gware