Alternatives to reduce rice imports

Imports of fuel and rice are the greatest consumers of foreign exchange.

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel said the Government is looking for alternative ways to reduce such bigger imports within the 100 Days Economic Stimulus Plan.

The 100-day plan has the primary goals of demonstrating government pro-activity in ensuring sound macroeconomic and fiscal management, restoring confidence, generating investment and moving towards greater economic self-reliance.

Abel said there are other alternatives apart from rice that people could consider and grow in the country.

He said the Government has been talking with the major rice distributors to grow and manufacture rice locally.

He added that the 500 hectares of rice farming in the Markham plains, in Morobe Province, will ease some of the burdens the government is facing with rice imports if the project commences.

Currently, PNG is importing about 350,000 tons of rice per year which equates to about K600m to K700m.

Prime Minster, Peter O’Neill, when responding to a query in Parliament last year (2016) said becoming self-sufficient in rice production is a matter of high national importance.

“We have a desire to grow more rice in our country and we need to work hard at this.”

He said as a country, we rely too much on rice imports, from Australia and from Asia that is sold in Papua New Guinea.

“We want to have a large scale and commercially viable rice production sector in our country, that will meet the demands of our people.”

Freddy Mou