Invest heavily in Agriculture – Minister Tomscoll says
By: The National
A CABINET Minister has warned that the country must invest heavily in agriculture if it is to enjoy a healthy and strong economy.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tomscoll, pictured, said the Government should every year invest between K1.5 billion and K2 billion – or 10 per cent of the national budget – to develop and expand the agriculture sector.
Tomscoll was speaking during the commissioning of a new rice milling machine in Angoram, East Sepik last Wednesday.
He was accompanied by Angoram MP Salio Waipo and Agriculture and Livestock deputy secretary technical services Stephen Mombi.
The Sepik Organic Rice milling plant is headed by champion model farmer Kristofer Wesley Piso.
Tomscoll said food was the biggest business and tradeable commodity in the world.
“Food is the number one business in the world,” Tomscoll said.
“Food alone is the biggest tradeable commodity in the world today.
“Since Independence, our economy was driven by agriculture – not gold, not copper.
“There was no oil, no gas. Life was better, standard of living was better.”
He said agriculture does not require a degree.
“Agriculture has proven that you don’t have to go to a university to become a rice farmer,” Tomscoll said.
“You don’t need to go to a college to become a cocoa farmer.
“You are gifted even before you are born to be a farmer.
“Farming is our inheritance. Our land is our strength.
“Our land is our identity. It has given us a better life.”
He said the first millionaires of Papua New Guinea were not university graduates. Coffee farmers in Goroka were millionaires,” Tomscoll said.
“This the 1960s stories. First copra farmer was a Bougainvillean.”
He said the problem since the mid-80s was people thought oil would bring change to the country.
He said agriculture was the country’s backbone.
“We think we will be like the Arabs that gas will change this country. But it will never change this country.