Governor Bird welcomes World Bank, IFAD to East Sepik

GOVERNOR Allan Bird has welcomed World Bank and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) as development partners in East Sepik Province.

“I’m really pleased that you choose this province as a beneficiary of this project (cocoa and coffee rehabilitation)”.

“I always believe you need good tools to achieve an outcome. This partnership is a tool to motivate our farmers.”

The Governor was sharing with members of the 13th World Bank-led Implementation Support Mission (ISM) which includes senior PNG Government officials during a welcome dinner he hosted at Wewak Village Inn on Monday 9 October, 2017. Also in attendance were PNG Cocoa Board and Coffee Industry Corporation senior staff.

The World Bank and IFAD are financing Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) implementing cocoa and coffee rehabilitation with lead partners and farmers in the country including the hinterland of East Sepik.

Earlier during the day the mission travelled the Sepik Highway to check status of rehabilitation  activities especially setting up of nurseries at project sites in Maprik and Yangoru Districts. It was an opportunity for farmers to share issues involving the project with the mission members.

Governor Bird told the mission members the long term agenda for the province is employment and the agriculture sector alone can employ close to 300,000 of some 600,000 people of East Sepik.

“As a governor I’m looking for partnerships. We need people to come in to partner to achieve that.”

Governor Bird added the Frieda River mine is expected to generate between K30 million to K40 million for East and West Sepik Provinces, but the impact in terms of employment will be minimal.

”Agriculture is the biggest employer. I therefore assure you from my end truly fullest support for the World Bank and IFAD for cocoa and coffee development work in the province.”

East Sepik is the current leading cocoa producing province. Of 40,000 metric tonnes produced in a year, East Sepik contributes about 30 per cent.

He also said the agriculture sector contributes between K500m and K600m to the provincial economy each year.

“I want to grow that. I will be interested to see how much we can do say to grow the production of cocoa to 100,000 and likewise for coffee.

“We got land and resources and am looking for partnerships.

“Politicians talk about agriculture but do not believe it. If you believe in something you can do something about it.”

Governor Bird is a farmer and businessman in vanilla.

He is interested in partners to set up factories in the province to process cocoa and coffee of high quality for export.

East Sepik Province is one of the leading Robusta coffee producers in the country. Weni Mandol Ltd is the PPAP coffee partnership under implementing best practices with 1000 farmers scattered across Maprik, Wosera and Yangoru. Total investment by PPAP coffee to improve production of high quality is K1.8 million.

Task Team Leader of 13th ISM Mr Stephane Forman welcome the invitation by Governor Bird.

He said East Sepik has so much potential in agriculture development especially with cocoa, coffee and vanilla.

Mr Forman also made reference to the vast Sepik Plain and the agriculture opportunities which he believed can transform the province and the country.

Manager of PPAP coffee Mr Potaisa Hombunaka emphasized the importance of partnerships with government agencies.

“Fostering effective partnerships in agriculture development like the PPAP model is the way forward.

“I appreciate the governor’s position to welcome all pilot projects.

“It is important for all three tiers of government (District Development Authority, Provincial and National Government) to work in partnership with the private sector; NGOs, community based organisations and church groups to deliver agriculture services as per the PPAP model.”

The cocoa board and CIC are custodians of the industry rehabilitation projects through the Department of Agriculture & Livestock. The projects are financed by a loan facility from World Bank and IFAD with support funding from PNG Government.

Approved for release:

Potaisa H. Hombunaka (Mr)