FAO in Papua New Guinea

Minister: PNG joins global battle on zero hunger


Port Moresby: Papua New Guinea (PNG) stands committed to contribute to achieving a zero-hunger world by 2030, says Hon Benny Allan, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock.

Mr Allan said the battle to reduce hunger, poverty and malnutrition should be a never ending one for PNG and its people and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) is keen to work with all stakeholders, including farmers, to transform the sector to provide healthy, nutritious and sufficient food for everyone.

Mr Allan made the remark when addressing participants of the 2018 World Food Day celebrations in Port Moresby on October 16. The event, organised by DAL and FAO, attracted a wide participation by commodity boards, sector agencies, agro-business, farmer groups and individuals.

The theme for this year’s World Food Day was Our Actions are our Future. A #ZeroHunger World by 2030 is possible.”

“Our actions as a population and country will not only determine how much we endure to save our families and communities in the face of rising hunger and malnutrition but also to contribute to the call of seeing a hunger free world by 2030,” Mr Allan said.

Allan said PNG’s key challenges to food security are poor quality dietary, poverty, obesity, climate change and disasters.

“Dietary deficiencies are caused by limited access to protein foods, leading to high rate of malnutrition as shown by stunting of about 48% children under the age of five. Rural poverty is primarily caused by low level of incomes and poor access to socio-economic services like schools, hospitals and markets.”

He added that climate change effects such as the El Nino-induced drought are a common climate change related threat to PNG that reduces food supply, impacting on food security. In the last El Nino drought (2015/2016), up to three million people, especially in the Highlands, were affected. The 2018 natural disasters – highlands earthquake and Momase volcanic activities – have exerted further pressure on household food security, Mr Allan said.

He however said the country is also presented with opportunities such as rising food prices, food crisis, niche markets of organic foods and food-derived biofuel. The comparative and absolute advantages that PNG has over its foods and natural resources, including the underutilised and indigenous species need to be further exploited.

Mr Allan further emphasised that the current Government has prioritised the agriculture sector as number one agenda to grow and drive the country’s economy.

And this is timely as the sector, over the last five years, has organised itself and embarked on a reform agenda that places agriculture in a strong position to take on the challenges to grow and drive our economy.

Mr Allan said this re-orientation includes policy interventions, such as the development of the National Food Security Policy (2016-2026) and the National E-Agriculture Strategy (2018-2023), led by DAL with technical support from FAO. The implementation of E-Agriculture priorities has already commenced this year, which includes the development of the DAL/agriculture sector website, which will be launched at the 2nd National Agriculture Summit in Lae next month. The collaboration with FAO will continue with the formulation of the National Agriculture Strategic Plan (2018-2028) and Coffee Industry Corporation Strategic and Business plans (2019-2023) and hosting of the agriculture summit, Mr Allan said.

“The sector is greatly honoured and we stand ready and willing to serve and deliver. As the employer of some 85% people, making agriculture the primary sector for economic development is indeed giving a golden opportunity to our people to own the economy and be masters of their own destiny.” 

Our people will become the centre of attention in our efforts towards a modern and internationally competitive agriculture sector, he said. Food producers and actors along the value chain development need improved capacity, skills and knowledge best suited to the changing environment. Innovations in science and technology, extension and socio-economics are crucial, supported by appropriate policy framework and investment, backed by good governance.

Mr Allan highlighted that issues critical to PNG are its preparedness for climate change and natural disasters, and the creation of sustainable food systems that promote responsible and sustainable practices, focusing on efficient resource use and management, protection and conservation of the environment and the application of climate smart farming techniques.

Mr Allan further stated that the 2018 APEC event in Port Moresby has provided another opportunity to raise voice again on food security and discuss common issues at an all new level.

PNG has been a part of the global community in observing the annual World Food Day over decades since the country became a member of the UN in 1975.