From the podium

From the podium


His Excellency Mathew'wela Kanua (Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Livestock of Papua New Guinea)

Mr Chairman,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am greatly honoured to represent my country Papua New Guinea, as the Special Envoy of my Prime Minister His Excellency the Rt. Hon. Sir, Mekere Morauta, to participate in &Is very important Summit, and to report to this august Assembly an the efforts of my Government in implementing the World Food Summit Plan of Action [WFSPA] since its launching in 1996.

But before I do that Mr Chairman allow me to express, on behalf of my Delegation, our deep appreciation ad profound gratitude to His Excellency, the Director General of the FAO, Dr Jacques Diouf for his impeccable leadership and guidance in coordinating and facilitating the implementation of the WFSPA, and for organizing this follow on Summit.

The noble objectives of the World Food Summit conducted in 1996, and later reinforced by the Millennium Summit in 2000, are of historic significance, as the over arching objectives of the se fora reinforces the importance of.' collective international action, towards attainment of Food, Economic and Social Security for All, After five years the. importance of the theme 'Tood for All" remains very much undiminished. We are gathered here today, in unison, as concerned members of the family of nations, once again, to reaffirm our solemn alliance against hunger.

"Food for All" remains central to humanity's plight and fight to eliminate the social and economic ills of poverty, food insecurity, and. social and economic injustice, particularly of the poor, the marginalised and the dispossessed communities of the world. This is a solemn task and calls for international alliance against these common enemies of all peoples, everywhere.

I wish to also convey my Government's best wishes and gratitude to the Government of Italy and its people, through you, for their warm hospitality and the opportunity to visit your historic and. ancient city of Rome, one of the world's important cradles of modem civilization.

The majority of the 5.1 million people of Papua New Guinea are of the Melanesian stock. They speak some 700 languages and inhabit the largest of the Pacific Island Countries. Eighty five, percent of our population live in rural areas and derive their livelihood from subsistence agriculture and cultivation of export crops such as. coffee, oil palm, coconut, cocoa, rubber and spices.

Papua New Guinea concurs with the Wings by the FAO, that it is a low income and food deficit country. In 1999 a study by the FAO reported that 29 % of the population were food insecure that the nutritional status, particularly of women was more marginal. then that of men. This is despite the fact that Papua New Guinea has adequate arable land and suitable climatic conditions to produce all its food requirements.

We consider that food and economic security are two sides of the same coin. In the absence of adequate supply of food and nutrition, cash in a man's pocket can help buy his way out of hunger and poverty. We believe as a developing nation that the push and pull of the market place is the true engine for economic growth.

After some 20 years of reforms in the agriculture sector, which has paved the way for the corporatisation of the tree crop industries, agriculture research and quarantine. the Government of Papua New Guinea has. realised that in order to further strengthen those State instrumentalities to be the conduit for service delivery, the Government must improve its role as the regulator in the economic sector especially in the forestry, fisheries and agriculture sectors to ensure better co ordination amongst the various stakeholders These challenges are now currently being implemented :through a major restructure programme under a World Bank sponsored public sector reform programme.

Papua New Guinea realises that the extent to which we can accommodate international assistance and support to implement our national food programmes, hinges directly on the extent to which our government is prepared to put in place correct policies and improve its administrative capacities and internal technical, legal, and institutional impediments. The removals of these ills provide the necessary internal preconditions to promote not only food but also, all agricultural development programmes.

To this end, the Government of Papua New Guinea has launched, since the WFS in 1996, further reforms, aimed particularly at restructuring public administrative institutions and state entities. The continuity of purpose in the national reform programme has remained unchanged "to achiewing good governance and effective management of the economy" Current economic policies of the Government are conducted within the framework of the structural adjustment programmes agreed to with the M and the World. Bank in 2000. The structural reforms, which are aimed at addressing the macroeconomic instability, have however, given little relief to the rural farmers.

The main policy thrust of the Government's reform programme in the Agriculture sector is conducted within two broad strategies namely, through a number of Food Policy and Institutional Str engthening and Capacity Building Programmes. The major Policy initiatives are entailed in the White Paper on Agriculture 1996-2000, The. National Food Security Policy, The National Nutrition Policy, The National Rice Development Policy and The National Agriculture Development Strategy Horizon 2002 2012.

The Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building programme include strengthening of the National Agriculture Research Systems, strengthening of external and internal quarantine systems; and better and sustainable utilization of forest and marine resources.

To achieve these policy reforms, a number of Program. Initiatives have commenced since 1996 to support food security and poverty alleviation. Fourteen strategic programs have been identified under the National Food Security Policy and are at various stages of implementation. The World Food Day continues to be celebrated since 1996 to raise awareness on food security.

In recognition of the key role played. by women in food production, processing, marketing and distribution 'in Papua Yew Guinea, specific programs and institutional mechanisms have been developed. to support women's efforts in food production and marketing; and to address critical issues such as women's access to credit, technology and infrastructural support.

In the Department of Agriculture and Livestock a gender development programme has been created and, established to coordinate women farmer programmes to improve their technical and managerial capacities through training, acquisition of technology and development of entrepreneurial skills.

The Government has established the National Codex Committee and a plan of action for the formulation of a food safety standard. Several national workshops on food and nutrition food processing and, preservation have been conducted as part of the food security programme.

At this juncture, allow me to convey my Goverment's sincere gratitude to the FAO for the successful completion of the pilot phase of FAO/PNG Special, Program on Food Security; and for supporting and funding the South South Corporation, for funding five Telefood projects; and two TCPs, one of which is still current. We are also profoundly grateful to the Government's of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Peoples Republic of China, ROC on Taiwan and the United Nations Development Programme for supporting the National Food Programme of Papua New Guinea. Whilst the People of Papua New Guinea appreciate the financial support of our most important Donors, Australia and European Union in the past, we remain somewhat skeptical for the future that they are abruptly shifting their assistance programmes away from agriculture to the social sector.

With all these policy and Institutional reforms, coupled with the generous support of the many good friends of Papua New Guinea, one would think that the country would. by now have graduated itself to a higher level of food, social and economic security.

I report to you that the people and the Government of Papua New Guinea, since 1994, have been faced with major macroeconomic problems, due initially to an high valued exchanged. rate and weak. international prices for all our traditional export crops. Since 1989 the national currency has been devalued by nearly 55% and is causing high inflationary pressure an domestic prices.

Further to these economic problems, the 1997 El Nino drought followed by the Aitape Tsunami disaster and several major landslides have resulted in the loss of lives of thousands of our people. These hardships have been aggravated by the lack of a coherent and strategic medium term agriculture development plan, the lack of cheap credit deteriorating conditions of our national transport and market infrastructure network. Altogether they pose real risk of aggravating the already ailing national economy thus adversely affecting the national food situation in the country.

The situation of my country depicts the case of many developing nations that modernisation of agriculture in developing countries require Concerted action in integrating and harmonizing the many complex multi sectoral issues involving a wide range of social, environmental and economic factors -- many of which lie outside the boundaries of the Ministries of Agriculture.

In conclusion, I wish to report that the Government of Papua New Guinea has attained modest progress in implementing the WFSPA at the institutional and government levelss. In order to achieve maximum impact at the "production" and ernment levels "people" fronts, the Government requires more time resources and the assistance of the FAO and the international community to complete its reform programmes.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that the people and the Government of Papua New Guinea, wholeheartedly renew their support for the 1996 Rome World Food Summit Declarations, and its connected Plan of Action. Wef urther pledge our support for the Declarations entered into in this follow on Summit.

It is our Government's firm resolve to commit itself in support of the global alliance against food insecurity and poverty trough the promotion of conducive political and economic environment, and through effective constitutional and legislative processes that will empower and enhance the quality of life of our people.

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