Livestock rearing needs support

Livestock is struggling with little direction from government stakeholders but is still being sustained by private sector and industry.

This is according to president of Farmers and Settlers Association Inc., Wilson Thompson, adding that focus had been diverted.

“PNG was all smiles when we had four doors opened into the closed door of Ministry and Department of Agriculture and Livestock. The Marape Government separated Livestock from Agriculture and also broke down Agriculture with separate Coffee and Oil Palm Ministry,” stated Thompson.

Livestock comprises cattle, goats, sheep, piggery, buffalo, ducks, rabbits, poultry and honey bee.

He had stated that the cattle industry had over 150,000 heads of cow in 1985 and now regressed to less than 50,000 heads with half under New Britain Palm Oil and the other half by Rumion, Bismarck supported by Zenag and PNG Forest Products and the churches.

About 5000 cows spread around the country with individual farmers.

“Goats and sheep has dwindled whilst commercial piggery is reduced to few operators in Lae like Rumion and Boroma in NCD. However, poultry has succeeded with Table Birds and Zenag supported by CLTC, Lihir Farms, RD Tuna and PNGDF and the spread of the live chicken industry right around the country,” said Thompson.

The honey bee has rebounded from demise in 1995 from 150 tonnes domestic production and that has steadily increased from 40 tonne in 2010 to now at 70 tonne in 2022.

“Despite the positive news in the creation of Ministries, we are struggling with breeding stock and how we can increase the quality of the local production and increasing it to meet local demand. We are in May 2023 and unlikely to see some positive action until 2025 if the Government can start its intervention programs,” stated Thompson.

He said on the industry level, there is threats from lumpy back and foot and mouth in cows, varroa mite and tropeaplesis in honey bee etc but has seen NAQIA starting the consultation on the new Biosecurity legislations and new entity.

Thompson states that at present, Livestock is still a Wing in the Department of Agriculture and Livestock but without specialist officers in entomology, animal health and welfare, veterinary officer, stock inspectors and breeding experts and extension and training officers.

Whilst that is going on, NARI is continuing with its research and some breeding for smallholder like australorp and village chicken, muscovy ducks and goats and sheep at Labu in Lae. 

“The NARI program has been supporting farmers with breeding but limited supply and hopefully we see the upscale in work by NARI and NAQIA and a new Livestock Office supported by the commercial arm of Livestock Development Corporation,” added Thompson.

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