Milestone for fresh produce agency

The Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) has reached a significant milestone in its 30 years of service in the horticulture industry.

The signing of K82 million (US$25.5m) loan from the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) on Thursday, August 23, was a significant achievement.

The fund, obtained through the Agriculture Department, will be implemented by FPDA to address market chain to improve and enhance rural farmers and aggregates to access market in a modernised environment.

In thanking IFAD for their assistance, the Deputy Prime Minister said the funding will create great opportunities and initiatives in the agriculture sector, which has always been the country’s backbone.

“We want to move to self-reliance and import replacement in the near future. We also want to encourage our rural farmers to get into income generation so that the proceeds go back to the farmers,” Charles Abel said.

Abel admitted that farmers in the rural areas lacked support from the government in terms of infrastructure and training but this would be addressed in the future with such funding from IFAD and other sources.

He added that IFAD has been assisting the PNG Government in the past with a US$2.5m in 1987, US$6.8m in 1994, US$12.8m in 2010, US$19.7m in 2015 and now US$25.5m out of a US$50.2m approved for 2018.

Those funds were implemented basically for agriculture development in the country.

Abel said the total funding package for this year was K162m (US$ 50.2m), of which K82m is released to FPDA while the balance of K80m will be made available at a later date to the PNG Government.

He said the K82m is a soft loan that can be repaid annually at a 2 percent interest within a 5-year grace period, and repayment done over 25 years.

The Deputy Prime Minister also took the opportunity to congratulate FPDA in qualifying for such a massive loan.

“Your recognition and endorsement came from international donors and we are proud of your achievements through your business development programs, value chain development and prudent project management skills,” he said.

IFAD, which comes under the United Nations, has a sub-regional office based in Jakarta, Indonesia, investing in rural people across South East Asia and the Pacific.

The signing was witnessed by Agriculture Minister Benny Allan, Secretary for Treasury Dairi Vele, FPDA chairman Fabian Chow and his General Manager Mark Worinu, with senior officers from Finance, Treasury, National Planning and Agriculture Department.

(From left: IFAD representative, Ron Hartman, Deputy Prime Minister Charles Abel, Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and FPDA chairman Fabian Chow)

Freddy Mou