BY MATTHEW VARI
Highlighted as priority number one, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Benny Allan, says his department will pursue funds earmarked for the response to the coffee berry borer (CBB) currently present in Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands provinces.
Mr Allan made the statement when presenting the department’s 100-day plan for the sector and priorities.
Mr Allan said to respond to CBB they will continue to implement the program with the promised K20 million under this year’s supplementary budget.
“Last year NEC approved K20 million, due to cash flow we have not been given anything as yet. Through NAQIA and CIC they have used their own funds. They have expended about K6 million already,” Mr Allan said.
“Yesterday the Secretary and I went and saw the Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister so that can be captured in the supplementary budget.
“Coffee brings in about half a billion into the country, if we do not attend to coffee now, coffee berry borer will affect production and when that goes down the revenue follow as well.”
Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock, Dr Vele Pat Ila’ava said the pest has a natural disaster status for the industry, which is why the department and minister will continue efforts to push the agenda at the highest levels of government.
“The pest is like a natural disaster and so that is why we are pressing upon, through the minister, upon colleagues in government and Minister Allan is also going through his colleagues in cabinet to ensure that we start to address this,” Dr Ila’ava said.
“So to start off there will be a supplementary budget where we are looking at funding support through the supplementary budget this year.”
Mr Allan maintained the pest currently is contained in the two highland provinces of Jiwaka and Eastern Highlands.