By JASON GIMA WURI
FOR the first time, export earnings from the country’s main tree crops – oil palm, coffee, cocoa, coconut, tea and rubber – reached the
From oil palm alone, earnings had surpassed the K1 billion mark in 2008.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare while giving a brief run down of the economic performance of the country in a speech during the 35th independence flag raising ceremony in
“The tree crop subsector accounted for over 92% of the total agriculture export values and engaged the bulk of population in rural districts,” Sir Michael said.
“It also reduces poverty among rural people and lessens migration to towns.
“This leads me to mention briefly our economic performance.
“The economy has been able to navigate the negative impact of the global financial crisis and grew by 5.5% last year.”
He said business activities, especially in the construction and communication sectors, had been strong despite the weaker external environment.
Sir Michael said due to the country’s strong economic performance, employment levels had also risen in 2008 to 8.5%, but eased last year to 4.7%,
“Agriculture has always been our livelihood and will continue to be an important economic sector for us.
“We have this safety net that is our traditional way of life based on subsistence agriculture,” Sir Michael added.
He also acknowledged that other activities had picked up as a result of the early works by ExxonMobil.
He added the growth the growth this year was expected to be 7.5%, in which the non-mining sector was expected to be at 7.6%.
“Despite the issues facing the government, we have not stopped looking at ways to bring about increased employment and development to our people,” Sir Michael said.