Monday, January 31, 2011

Potential for aquaculture development in Papua New Guinea

Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals in all types of water environments, including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

Inland fish farmers in Pomio, East New Britain province, visiting a fish pond in Lausus during an aquaculture training conducted by NARI recently
 Similar to agriculture, aquaculture can take place in the natural environment or in a manmade environment.
The farming of fish is the most-common form of aquaculture and involves raising fish in tanks, ponds and other forms of enclosures mostly for food and to generate income.
Fish species raised by fish farms include salmon, big eye tuna, carp, tilapia, catfish and cod.
Aquaculture has become an important source of fish available for human consumption.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, global aquaculture production has grown at 11% a year over the past decade and is projected to continue increasing.
Expansion of this industry globally has been fuelled by the increasing demand for fishery products coupled with declining catches from marine bodies.
As a result aquaculture has become an important economic sector in many countries.
PNG has a huge potential for aquaculture development, particularly for small to medium-scale farmers.
Numerous efforts by the PNG government and FAO in the 1950s could not trigger the aquaculture industry in the country.
The progress has been slow since, either commercially in the private sector or small-scale farming in rural communities.
This is so despite its potential with the availability of large and diverse freshwater as well as marine environments.
PNG is also home to most of the important tropical aquaculture species such as barramundi, freshwater prawns, freshwater crayfish, sea cucumber, tropical sponges and corals, groupers, marine prawns, mud crabs, giant clam and pearl oysters.
The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) through an aquaculture technical coordinating meeting with stakeholders in June 2007 identified limitations associated with aquaculture development in PNG.
It identified the need for the development of suitable feeds, production and distribution of quality fingerlings, networking and collaboration, commercialisation, marketing, health and bio-security issues, and extension support.
A recent assessment of inland pond aquaculture development and research activities by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) indicated the need for the development of effective feeding and pond management strategies.
It noted the growing needs for fingerlings for carp, tilapia and trout.
The potential to culture native species like eels, freshwater prawns, crayfish and catfish was also highlighted.
Through the smallholder livestock development project, the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is embarking on aquaculture development in PNG through a new initiative supported by the national government with a view of promoting income earning opportunities and as a food source in rural communities.
Under this project NARI is looking at the use of local materials as feed source for pond fish and appropriate feeding practices for available fish species.
It is also looking at mini-hatcherie for fingerling production, pond development and integrating fish with other livestock species such as poultry.
The geneticall- improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) is being used.
Aquaculture work on station has shown to be promising and it is being piloted out in three provinces: Morobe, Western Highlands and Central.
A series of trainings are being conducted for potential fish farmers in these provinces to encourage local participation and promote small-scale village based fish pond operations.
With proper management, small-scale fish farming could easily become a source of income and means of household food security for rural inland communities.
The trainings involve practical demonstrations and information sharing sessions on inland aquaculture planning, pond design and construction, pond management, and on-farm fish feed making using locally-available feed sources.
Participants are being encouraged to share their knowledge with others in their communities.
These trainings will also identify needs and issues faced by farmers in the rural communities. NARI will continue to deliver targeted training and demonstrations on inland aquaculture to encourage and promote aquaculture.
Despite the potential and increasing interest for aquaculture development in PNG, aquaculture research and development has not received much recognition.
Trained manpower and infrastructure for research and development in aquaculture is also limited.
Collaboration between key players of the industry is also lacking.
Efforts by NARI and others in promoting aquaculture research and developments in the country need to be supported.
Collaboration and partnership efforts are required to the develop aquaculture in the country to its full potential.Using appropriate aquaculture techniques and technologies, the aquaculture industry has shown that it can grow, produce, culture, and farm all types of freshwater and marine species.
PNG could do the same if all players play their part in a coordinated manner.
The aquaculture sector, like that of agriculture, has huge untapped potential in farming aquatic organisms.
It provides enormous opportunities to empower rural people with food source and generate income.

Robbery lands one in hospital

Others get away in waiting vehicle


ONE man is in critical condition at the Angau Memorial Hospital after an armed robbery at the Lae Yacht Club on Saturday morning went wrong, The National reports.

Robbery gone wrong ... A man lies injured at the Lae Yacht Club premises after an armed robbery on Saturday morning went wrong. Reports said four men drove into the club premises in a white utility and stole about K14,000 in cash and cheques. On their way out, the robbers were confronted by a security unit when shots were exchanged and a man, who is recovering at the Angau Memorial Hospital, shot. The robbers abandoned the utility and escaped in another waiting vehicle.. – Nationalpic by RIGGO NANGAN
Four armed men drove into the Lae Yacht Club premises through the gate, unsuspected while one of them held up a G4S guard at the guardhouse at gunpoint.
The vehicle they arrived in was believed to be stolen from an electronic goods employee last Wednesday and had another company’s sticker on it.
Three men rushed into the clubhouse and straight for the club office and held up the employees.
They took about K14,000 cash and cheques and were on their way out when a G4S armoured vehicle which was on its routine routine to pick up the money pulled up.
The G4S guard who was held up at the gate said he did not suspect anything because the sticker was of a
vehicle which always supplied food to the club and never checked it when it drove through the gate.
He said when the utility had gone in, one of the suspect walked up to him and pushed the barrel of a pistol into his mouth and pushed him into a room in the guardhouse.
“On hearing a commotion in the club house, the suspect left me and ran to meet his colleagues who were making their getaway after they were disturbed by the armoured vehicle personnel,” the guard said.
He said he quickly locked the gate and ran out to the main road while the gang tried to drive out.
The armoured guards exchanged shots with the gang.
It was then that one of the suspects, identified later by the guard at the gate to be the one who held him up, was shot and seriously wounded.
The armoured vehicle rammed the parked utility to keep it from moving and seeing no way to escape, other members of the gang jumped over the fence and drove away in another vehicle that was waiting on the main street, the Butibam Road.
The injured man was later taken to the hospital by police.
Police had issued warning to the public to take extra precautions when moving around in their vehicles because car thefts were on the rise in the city.

Government admits to rushed gas agreement



THE government has admitted to resource owners and the people of Papua New Guinea that the PNG liquefied natural gas project agreement signing was rushed, The National reports.

Newly appointed minister responsible for all LNG matters relating to outstanding memorandum of agreements (MoA), ministerial commitments, seed capital finds, infrastructure development grants and other outstanding issues, Deputy Prime Minister Sam Abal, made the admittance last Friday to landowners at the Unagi oval in Port Moresby.

Mipela government i tok sori long rasim PNG LNG agreement mipela i sainim (we, in government, are sorry for the rushed PNG LNG agreement that was signed),” Abal said.

He said there was immense pressure to get the project to first gas within limited time to secure markets against competing LNG projects in the region.

The window of opportunity for PNG’s gas to secure lucrative markets would have closed had PNG taken longer to bring the project on stream.

Abal said due to these pressures, the government had no choice but to conform to the will of the developer and entered into the PNG LNG agreement.

He admitted that the current LNG-related issue between the government, ExxonMobil and the landowners was the direct outcome of that rushed agreement.

The deputy prime minister, who is also minister for works and MP for Wabag, stressed that since the mistake was already made, there was no option but to address the consequences.

Thomas Gamu, the man who had been mobilising LNG project landowners to fight for their rights and benefits, asked Abal how they would be compensated.

“Now that the LNG agreement has been rushed and cheaply sold away, the government must tell us as resource owners, Hela, and the people of PNG how we will be compensated for selling our gas cheaply.

“Our resource has been cheaply and hastily sold off by our government.

“It is a great failure on the part of the government to protect its interest and its sovereignty than serving the interest of foreign-owned companies,” Gamu said.


IPBC talks to fund over power woes

THE interminable power disruptions which cost millions of kina in lost business and damaged assets and much inconvenience has forced the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) to enter into negotiations with Nambawan Super Ltd to fund additional power generation capacity for Port Moresby, The National reports.

Minister for Public Enterprises Arthur Somare announced yesterday that the two organisations would sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) which would ensure that adequate funding was available to upgrade the system and to minimise the severity of disruptions that have been occurring especially in Port Moresby and Lae.

Somare said he was saddened by recent events that were partly the result of a number of unfortunate incidents that affected electricity supplies in Port Moresby.

There was a loss of generating capacity at the base load Rouna-2 hydropower station and at Kanudi and subsequent flooding just after Christmas worsened the situation. Debris from the floods clogged the intake gate and screen at Rouna-2. There was also a reported fire at the Kanudi-2 engine.

“We cannot let this situation continue. We must rectify these problems and ensure there is adequate generating capacity for Port Moresby and Lae in particular to have stable electricity supplies. The system also requires adequate spinning capacity to avoid major brownouts whenever significant maintenance work is carried out,” Somare said.

“I am hopeful this will now take place under the supervision of IPBC. The MOU with Nambawan Super Ltd provides assurance that the work that needs to be done will start to move forward immediately and not be hampered by financial considerations.”

The arrangement, when signed, will be a big relief for PNG Power which announced last week that power interruptions might continue to 2014 because of lack of funding to attend to urgent maintenance and upgrading work.

Somare said he was also hopeful that electricity supply problems, which have affected Lae and the Highlands grid, would also be resolved this year with completion of work on refurbishment of the Ramu hydro station.

This will be supplemented by backup diesel generating capacity at Taraka (12 MW), Madang (13 MW) and at Goroka (4 MW).



Talasea man guilty of manslaughter

A WEST New Britain man, in his 30s, from Garu village, Talasea, has been found guilty of manslaughter by the Kimbe National Court, The National reports.

Joe Tuka was an oil palm worker charged with killing fellow worker Hali Beki, from Morobe.

The court found that Beki’s death arose from a fight between two groups of people at Daliavu Plantation, in the Talasea area of West New Britain, on Sept 30, 2008.

 Tuka was alleged to have killed Beki by punching him in the head during a confrontation between the Tuka and his brother-in-law, and the Beki and his nephews.

The state was of the opinion that Tuka threw the first and lethal punch and that Beki did nothing to warrant being punched and did not respond to Tuka’s blows.

The defence, on the other hand claimed that Tuka, although present at the scene, did not throw any punches and that Beki was punched by the brother-in- law Mark Orio.

   Meanwhile, the court, having heard the two arguments in the preliminary assessment, stated: “The medical evidence suggests that the deceased died due to a heavy blow to the head. The state’s evidence which was that the deceased was punched on the nose twice – first by the accused and then by Orio – was consistent with the medical evidence.

The evidence of the defence witnesses – that the deceased was punched in the head by Orio, not by the accused – was also consistent with the medical evidence.

There was no evidence, or suggestion, that the cause of death was anything other than the blow(s) to the head inflicted in the altercation.

“Whoever punched him in the head killed him. The question is: Was it Orio? Tuka? Or both?” Justice David Cannings said.

Cannings, who presided over the case last June 16 and then completing it on Jan 20, with his final decision the next day found Tuka, guilty of manslaughter.

 He said: “Making a decision on whether an accused is guilty in a case where diametrically different versions of events are presented is not a simple matter of deciding who to believe.

“The court might tend to believe the version presented by the state witnesses but still find the accused not guilty if it is not convinced beyond reasonable doubt.  However, deciding who to believe is a good place to start the decision-making process and, in this case, I believe the state witnesses.” 

Cannings added that the defence witnesses “gave inconsistent evidence about whether the Morobeans were armed.        

“The contentions that they were armed and that there were six of them are not believable as neither Orio nor Tuka were injured,” he said.


POMSoX growing

THE Port Moresby Stock Exchange Ltd (POMSoX) recorded another good trading year due to strong economic growth driven by the multibillion kina LNG project, which is creating genuine opportunities for most businesses across all sectors of the economy, The National reports.

According to its year-end market performance market report, the market was expected to rally this year in connection with forecast strong economic growth and countrywide boom in the resource sector.

POMsox recorded a 118% rise in its total market capitalisation to close at K109.5 billion as of Dec 31, from K50.1 billion at the beginning of last year.

The significant increase in market capitalisation was a result of Newcrest Mining listing last September which contributed K76 billion in capitalisation.

However, the total number of market transactions recorded throughout the year dropped 5.4% to 5,846 from 6,182 in 2009.

The home-listed stocks led the way with higher volume of market activity.

During the year, the Kina Securities Index (Ksi) reached a high of 7,562.29 points and closed the year at 7,430.43, up 9% from 6,816.26 points posted during the same period in 2009.

Meanwhile, the exchange’s investment awareness and education programme continued to play a key role in educating our Papua New Guinean investors.

This programme would be expanded to include an advance seminar programme for investors.



Five die in city clash

Enga and Hela people fight over cellphone




FIVE people have been reported killed over the weekend in Port Moresby in a violent clash between people of Hela and Enga origin, The National reports.

The fight between the two groups reportedly started over a mobile phone at the Gordon market last Wednesday.

Metropolitan Superintendent Joseph Tondop said that unconfirmed reports put the death toll at five with a few hospitalised with injuries.

In related issues:

  • The Gordon market is closed indefinitely until the matter is resolved;
  • A peace mediation, brokered by police, is scheduled for 9am today; and
  • Leaders call for the Vagrancy Act to be reintroduced to curb movement.

Police reported that the fight erupted after a drunken youth from the Hela region refused to give back a mobile phone he had snatched from a woman.

Police said the argument accelerated into an ethnic clash with supporters from both sides joining in and fought using bush knives, sticks and stones, forcing the public to flee in all directions.

Gordon police were earlier outnumbered but were able to quell the tension with the help of police reinforcement from other stations.

The fight erupted again last Thursday forcing the market to close.

Tondop said that the criminal investigation division reported that two people were confirmed death while the other three slayings were yet to be confirmed.

According to reports he received, three people from Tari and two from Enga were killed.

The killings did not happen in one location and the fear was that people were targeted in all suburbs.

According to reports, one person was killed at Gordon, another killing occurred at 5-Mile with another at the Erima wildlife junction.

Sources said another person was killed at Waigani which forced the relatives to retaliate by chopping to death another at Gordon yesterday afternoon as he was trying to jump on a PMV bus.

A source said that another killing occurred at Gerehu yesterday evening, but police could not confirm the killing.

Meanwhile, Tondop appealed to all leaders from both groups to meet at the Jack Pidik Park for an urgent peace meditation starting at 9am today.

He said that the aim of the meeting was to appeal to both sides to stop the fight and help police identify the instigators of the fight from both sides.

People who wanted more information can contact him on his mobile 72648838 or his office on 3244282.

He also said that the Gordon market would be shut for an indefinite period until the conflict was resolved.

Police had warned the public to take precautions as people seemed to be taking law into their own hands by attacking anybody who either spoke Enga or Huli.



Friday, January 28, 2011

Rust in peace!

The Ramu Ranger was built in Cairns to serve the people in the Middle Ramu and Bogia districts almost 20 years ago by the then Regional Member, Peter Barter.

Rust In Peace...Madang Ranger in Madang Harbour
It was taken over by a local company and ownership disputes resulted in the vessel going into disrepair.
The Ramu Ranger served the people along the Ramu River in the Madang Province and undertook commercial runs to Manam, Kar Kar, Long Island carrying copra successfully.
It now lies in a ship's graveyard in the Madang Harbour as pictured in a state beyond repair along with numerous other wrecks that have also suffered the same fate.
A few more wrecks in the ship's graveyard in Madang Harbour
Throughout the maritime provinces of Papua New Guinea,  similar stories can be told of numerous barges and vessels that were purchased without proper advise being provided resulting in many rusting away through lack of maintenance.
Sir Peter suggested it was time for the national government through the National Maritime Safety Authority to provide an advisory service to assist the provincial governments and MPs purchasing the right type of vessel that can be operated commercially in PNG for the specific purpose intended.

Tingim Laip meeting in Madang

Tingim Laip phase two review has been taking place at the Madang Resort for the past week. Those attending were Tingim Laip project officers and regional coordinators from across Papua New Guinea.

Meeting underway at Madang Resort Hotel
 Key partners include Save the Children, Family Planning International and well as the provincial aids council, all of whom are working with various organisations including the PNG Defence Force, oil palm companies, local level governments and mining companies throughout PNG.
Tingim Laip is the largest HIV prevention project in PNG and has been operating for seven years.
The phase two workshop was launched in Madang in 2009 by the chair of the National Aids Council, Sir Peter Barter.
The meeting in Madang is to review phase two with the priority to consolidate their work and expand new sites beyond the existing 36 sites in 11 provinces.
Tingim Laip is a project funded by AusAID under the coordination of the NAC.
Ms Anne Malcolm from AusAID and Sir Peter Barter attended the meeting where Sir Peter challenged those attending to provide advice for the NAC on various issues, including how the protocol for testing could be changed to suit PNG culture.
Ms Anne Malcolm addressing the meeting
He also said that it was extremely important for everyone to be aware of the need to be accountable as national and international donors had zero tolerance to any mismanagement of funding and that everyone involved with awareness, prevention and treatment used whatever funds are available for the purposes intended.

Blackouts to 2014

PNG Power linesman David Shangi insulating the ABC lines to the transformer connecting the Pacific Star Ltd office along Waigani Drive in NCD. – Nationalpic by EKAR KEAPU
POWER interruptions, the bane of all town and city dwellers, may continue until 2014, The National reports.
That is the somber forecast by the only supplier of electricity in the country, PNG Power.
PNG Power chief executive officer Tony Koiri said at a press conference yesterday that PPL did not have the money to fund urgent work to get reliable electricity supply to all centres.
“We do not want to make any excuses for the recent power outages, he said.
“While there has been a separate initiating incident on each occasion, each of these has led to a more extensive blackout.
“This has exposed weaknesses in the system and PPL is taking steps to replace the faulty electronic equipment that, in most cases, is old.
“We acknowledge that such weak spots should have been identified and maintained proactively,” Koiri said.
Power outages were to continue in the main centres, particularly between 9am and 3pm.
Koiri assured residents in PNG that there were promising prospects for a stable electricity system by 2014, but the biggest concern now was the short-term sustenance of power, especially for the major centres where a lot of business activities occur.
Koiri said PNG Power was looking at other energy sources to supply electricity in the long term. The main aim would be to use natural gas to support the current network and meet the demand for electricity.
PPL and the government had initialed a memorandum of understanding to use gas from the Hides reservoir.
The recent outages had reportedly affected Port Moresby and Lae customers.
In Port Moresby, there was a loss of generating capacity at the Rouna 2 hydropower station and Hanjung’s Kanudi power station.
“This apparently caused tripping at the substations at Boroko and Konedobu.”
There was also a fault at the Waigani sub-station transformers, Koiri said.
After the last festive season, excessive flooding brought down debris that clogged the screens and intake gate at Rouna 2.
Rouna and Kanudi are the main sources of power for Port Moresby.
He said PPL has in place business and development plans for capital investment based on projected operational profit and loan facilities.

Classes threatened over mining allowance



TEACHERS in Southern Highlands have told the provincial government to pay them their mining allowances “or there will be no classes this year”, The National reports.

There are 4,000 teachers in the province.

More than 100 of them gathered at the provincial headquarters building, Agiru Centre, yesterday in Mendi and demanded that they be paid these long overdue stipends.

The allowance was set at K400 a fortnight.

Their demands were contained in a petition, which came at a time when the provincial executive council was also discussing the provincial budget. Governor Anderson Agiru chaired the meeting.

The teachers also threatened that they would not return to their schools until they were paid their mining allowances.

Their demands for mining allowances had started when the first oil flowed out of Kutubu about 18 years ago. However, their pleas had fallen on deaf ears.

Spokesmen Bogom Inua and John Mono said this time they would not listen to the Teaching Service Commission, acting education secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio or the provincial government.

Inua, who holds a diploma in education and had been teaching in Southern Highlands for 40 years, said a teacher’s base salary of K400 was not enough to cater for a family’s needs in these times of sky-rocketing prices.

He said an expected salary increase, based on a memorandum of agreement signed last year, was not effected yesterday.

Mono expressed similar sentiments.

He warned that schools in the province would not resume classes until their demands were met.

Attempts to get comments from the provincial education adviser were unsuccessful.



Abal in charge of planning committee

THE National Executive Council yesterday directed Deputy Prime Minister and Works Minister and national planning committee chairman Sam Abal to be the government’s focal point for settling all outstanding issues relating to the PNG LNG project, The National reports.

Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare issued the directive following a briefing yesterday morning by Abal and senior cabinet minsiters and party leaders who are members of the planning committee.

Developer ExxonMobil were also summoned to provide an update regarding the temporary work closure of the Hides 4 conditional plant site early this week.

In assuring the developer ExxonMobil and operator Esso Highlands, Sir Michael reaffirmed that the PNG economy and the future of the people depend on the prject and that the government had got a handle on it.

Both the government and the people, particurlarly the landowners were committed to see its first LNG cargo leave its shores in 2014.

The landowner matters and issues are in-house matters and the government will move to settle it.

Meanwhile, chairman of Hides Gas Development Coporation (HGDC) Libe Parinali was the first to thank Sir Michael in appointing Abal to handle LNG matters.

“We will be working with Sam Abal as it is welcome news and we look forward to progerssing the LNG project.”

“The task now is to streamline the government operations and processes so that our joint venture development partners, financers, customers, people of PNG and most importantly resource owners know the point of contact.

Sir Michael said the key ministerial economic and social sector committees including the ministerial gas project committee were also members of the national planning committee.

In a further directive, the NEC instructed that all outstanding MoA funds relating oil monies owing to landowners companies to be paid as soon as possible.

Other isses pertaining to appropriations such as minsiterial commitments made during the UBSA and LBSA process of negotiations has also been directed for immediate settlement.



Kasieng's suspension is illegal, says lawyer



Counsel representing suspended West Sepik provincial police commander, Sakawar Kasieng, has notified deputy police commissioner Fred Yakasa that the suspension notice served on his client was illegal, The National reports.

In a four-page letter delivered to Yakasa on Wednesday, counsel Peter Sam told the deputy police commissioner that there were no grounds for the suspension of Kasieng as all the accusations against his client were fallacious.

“I have studied the contents of the purported suspension notice, dated Jan 24, 2011, and wish to advice you that the suspension of Chief Insp Sakawar Kasieng from his position as PPC of West Sepik is null and void and has no effect in law or equity,” Sam said.

He instructed Yakasa to immediately reinstate Kasieng to his former position or risk having a lawsuit filed against him and the state.

“Accordingly, I wish to formally advise you that unless you reinstate Kasieng to his position, he will have no other option but to take immediate appropriate legal action against you without any further notice,” he said.

Sam also said that his client was denied natural justice when the charges were first laid against him as he was not accorded any chance to explain himself to the police hierarchy.   

Kasieng was suspended by Yakasa last week for disciplinary offences which included:

  • Releasing statements to the media which were damaging to the constabulary;
  • Illegally authorising the closure of the West Sepik police station; and
  • Closure of police station tantamount to discrediting the constabulary’s management.

Sam said that Kasieng did not make degrading comments in the media as there were no specific quotes that could support the claim and that he (Kasieng) was only fighting for the rights of his officer who was assaulted by members of operation Sunset Merona.

He added that the accusations that his client had shut West Sepik police station was false because the station remained open during the said date and that there was no discredit to the constabulary as the members of the public were not affected of policing services.



New system stalls government operations

THE Government’s agenda for the early implementation of this year’s K9.3 billion budget has been stalled for a whole month, Waigani sources have said, The National reports.

That is because of the sudden introduction of a new, but largely untested, whole-of-government planning, budgeting, accounting and financial reporting system, and known as the integrated financial management system (IFMS), to replace the PNG government accounting system (PGAS).

The switch-over has affected opening of government accounts for the new year, and it is not known when the matter will be sorted out.

The government had announced at the end of last year, at the time Sam Abal was acting prime minister, that as this year was “the year of implementation” it wanted to get into action from the first week. He met with departmental heads on Jan 7 and made clear the government’s intentions and for these chief bureaucrats to get into action.

Sources said, however, this had not been possible for the past three weeks because the introduction of IFMS, however credible the package, has delayed the release of warrants by Treasury Department to other government departments and agencies in order for cheque payments for goods and services to be made on time.

They said the issuance of warrants is an activity that is supposed to be done at the beginning of every month according to every department’s and agency’s expenditure estimates and drawn from their annual budgetary allocations.

IFMS is a project administered by the Department of Finance and funded jointly by the government and donor agencies.

The National could not reach either the Department of Finance or IFMS authorities for comment yesterday.

Abal, the man who gave the directives for the early implementation of government programmes earlier this month is no doubt disappointed at the delay.

According to Abal’s press office, a month’s delay puts back work on a lot of well intended activities and programmes and adds unnecessary pressures on the government, ministers, politicians and bureaucrats.

At the same time providers of goods and services also cannot wait around while the government system tries to get itself organised. Time is money for them and that should be understood by government.



Thursday, January 27, 2011

How green is Port Moresby

Port Moresby’s looking so lush, green and verdant after all that rain over Christmas and New Year and is going to be like that for at least the next three months.

Lush, green vegetables
Vegetable gardens are sprouting up all over the city and its perimeters and markets are chock-a-block with green leafy vegetables, complemented by fresh fish and other seafood, wallaby, deer and bandicoot.
Last Saturday, I wandered through the popular Rainbow Market at Gerehu, marveling at the potpourri of vegetables and seafood on offer.
Fresh fish from the seas around Port Moresby to complement the vegetables
Food, glorious food, everywhere!
The next day, my elder son Jr and I took a refreshing early morning walk from Gerehu to Waigani, enjoying the greenery of vegetable gardens along the route, the industriousness of the many green thumbs, and of course the roadside market at Waigani.
A Central Province villager sells pineapples, watermelon, sugar cane, bananas  and coconuts at a roadside market at Waigani
“How green is Port Moresby,” I tell Jr.
“If only it could like this all year-round!”
All forms of gardening are rewarding and satisfying.
But vegetable gardening, largely because the gardener can be in charge of the whole operation from seed collection to consumption, is possibly the most-rewarding.
In addition, well-grown home-produced vegetables cannot be matched for flavour and nutritional value.
And with care, considerable savings – especially in a city like Port Moresby – in the family’s food budget are possible.

Corn, kaukau and other vegetables
Port Moresby, unlike a place like Goroka – where you can grow all types of succulent, mouth watering vegetables – has an arid year round climate.
This is apart from a brief respite during the December to March period, when the rain comes down in buckets and vegetables – especially corn – abounds all over the capital city.
This creates queues at many gardening shops in Port Moresby, such as major agricultural supplier Brian Bell.
As early as 7am, a long line of people gather in front of the Brian Bell Plaza at Boroko and buy their supplies of corn seeds.
I know this only too well, as for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to buy corn seeds at Brian Bell Boroko and Gordon, but alas, stocks were zilch because of the high demand.
During this period, corn gardens can be seen all over the city, including precarious hillsides.
Apart from corn, there are so many other vegetables you can grow including tomatoes, cucumber, beans, silver beet, pak choi (Chinese cabbage), cabbage, chillies, as well as local favorites such as aibika, aupa, peanuts, cassava and bananas.

Woman sorting out her cassava
 Regular watering (well, you don’t really need to, given the frequent rain) and home-made compost and mulch, and after about two months, you start to reap the fruits of your harvest: tubs of corn, tomatoes, cucumber silver beet, pak choi, chillies and other garden-fresh produce.
You can make a killing if you go to market; otherwise, this is strictly for family consumption.
Suffice to say, it can greatly reduce your food budget.
For your children, it can be a great way to teach them about gardening and agriculture, especially in an urban environment like Port Moresby.
For those who spend most of their time in the office, backyard gardening is a great way to relax after work as well as at weekends talking to your vegetables.
Try it: you’ll really reap what you sow!
According to authors Michael Bourke and Bryant in the highly-acclaimed 2010 publication Food and Agriculture in Papua New Guinea, “agriculture is the most-important activity carried out by the vast majority of Papua New Guineans”.
“For most people, agriculture fills their lives, physically, culturally, economically, socially and nutritionally.
“Yet agriculture is the most-undervalued and misunderstood part of PNG life.
“The reasons for this are partly because mineral and oil exports make PNG comparatively wealthy for a developing country; partly because agriculture is practiced in the countryside, away from towns, and is therefore largely ‘invisible’ to urban people and international visitors; and partly because agriculture is viewed as not being ‘modern’.”
Contrary to what many people think, the majority of fresh produce in Port Moresby is supplied by local sources, and does not come from the Highlands
This includes that from the many hillside gardens popping up everywhere, settlements and surrounding areas such as Laloki, Bomana and Sogeri.
The Fresh Produce Development Agency’s 2009 Feeding Port Moresby Study shows that Port Moresby supplies most of its fresh produce.
Other key findings were:
• The volume of fresh produce being supplied from the Highlands into Port Moresby appeared to be decreasing while supplies from Central Province and NCD are increasing;

• Increasing amounts of fresh produce marketed into Port Moresby were handled through middlemen, rather than by grower-vendors themselves and their wantok networks. However, some farmers still preferred to sell their produce themselves at the open market;

• The annual volume of fresh produce imported into Port Moresby in 2007 was estimated to be just under 7, 500 tonnes, comprising 2,500 tonnes from international air and sea arrivals; 3, 500 tonnes from domestic sea arrivals; and 1, 430 tonnes from domestic air arrivals;

• Fresh produce production in the peri-urban areas was approximately 8, 500 tonnes during the dry season from the six surveyed settlement areas, which translated into a total production of 50,000 tonnes per year from all settlements;

• Most fresh produce was sourced from Central province and the NCD and very little was sourced from overseas or the Highlands. The total supply of fresh produce to Port Moresby was estimated at 57, 780 tonnes, with 7, 430 tonnes (15%) coming from overseas and rest of PNG, and 50, 350 tonnes (85%) from peri-urban production;

• Annual demand for fresh produce in Port Moresby was estimated to be around 140, 500 tonnes;

• Shortfalls between estimated demand and supplies were significant in volume and likely to come from Central province and home gardens;

• Facilities in the six open markets in Port Moresby are of poor quality, with common complaints from the vendors being lack of shade; poor water and sanitation facilitation facilities; and the need for benches to better look after their produce during wet days;

• Temperate vegetables continue to be supplied from the Highlands, however, green leafy vegetables and perishable fruit vegetables were supplied from NCD. Hardier crops such as sweet potato, banana, taro and yams come from Central province;

• Buyers and re-sellers stated that graded products (even if only by appearance) sell better;

• Buyers tended to buy on short notice and formal supply arrangements were rare. Buyers prefer carton packaging for leafy vegetables and bags for sweet potato and potato, with some limit on size/weight; and

• Imported produce were only relied upon by retailers but not to wholesalers or hotels and restaurants except in the case of some fruit produce.

“The increase in peri-urban production has vastly improved Port Moresby’s capacity to feed itself,” according to the study.
“There are several reasons for the increase.
“Firstly, there is emigration of more-experienced and innovative farmers, especially from the Highlands, into Port Moresby.
“Secondly, horticultural techniques have vastly improved and the use of fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides has allowed huge increases in productivity.
“Finally, in recent years, weak PNG currency, which increases the price of imports, has also increased the demand for cheaper, locally-grown food and has helped to spur local production.
“Peri-urban producers have several advantages over their Highlands and rural counterparts in supplying the Port Moresby market.
“Firstly, peri-urban producers tend to be better informed and better linked to the market than farmers in the rural and more-remote areas.
“Seeds and other farm inputs are cheaper, fresher, of higher quality and more-accessible.
“Peri-urban producers are better equipped, as the cash flow from off-farm incomes enables purchase of agro-chemicals and better equipment.
“Proximity to the market and the city enables farmers to spot and respond to price signals.
“However, there are concerns over land tenure and food safety associated with the use of contaminated water and soil for food production.”
Happy gardening folks!

Esso: Wealth from gas plan

But economic windfall comes with a host of problems like STD, social conflicts


The PNG LNG project will bring a windfall of economic benefits to the economy alongside a host of social problems like sexually transmitted diseases and social conflicts between the locals and outside job seekers, The National reports.

This was gleaned from the latest report covering the first three quarters of last year issued by Esso Highlands Ltd, operator of the project and subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp.

However, EHL is certain the economic benefits would outweigh the feared social problems that the gas economy would spawn.

In its report, EHL said has repeated an already known fact that the gas project is scheduled to deliver starting 2014.

EHL said during this time, the country’s gross domestic product is forecast to double an average of K18.2 billion as a long-term benefit.

The reports said as the GDP doubles, the opportunity exists for the national and provincial governments to use it to address associated impacts that will most likely result such as a demand for improved health and education systems, infrastructure, and the provision of appropriate judicial and law enforcement systems.

However, the report has warned that although there would be significant economic benefits, there would also be social issues that could arise that would need to be managed.

For instance, it cited problems like sexually transmitted diseases, migrations to work and illegal settlements and the potential social conflict between local populations and employment seekers.

The report said a key component of the project is an effective, ongoing communications programme involving the operator, national and provincial governments, local communities, landowners, NGOs and other interested stakeholders.

The aim is to ensure there is an understanding of the project, its implications and how issues will be addressed.

The report said the economic impacts of an LNG development in PNG would reach well beyond the direct investment in country and the tax and equity returns to the state.

During the project life, tax revenue is expected to total around K67 billion, with royalty payments estimated to total K5.3 billion.

This is split as follows: local landowners - 50%; provincial government-33%; local government -10% and the State - 7%.

EHL said the project’s direct benefits could be derived from:

* Revenue, which from a case study assumption, direct cash to the PNG government and landowners is estimated to be over US$32 billion in the 30-year project life;

* Employment, which once operational, should have approximately 1, 250 full time positions to be filled by nationals; and

* Business opportunities for landowner companies who can supply various support services such as camp maintenance, local personnel transportation, vehicle hire, catering and minor civil works.

The true potential of the project lies in its ability to influence economic performance indirectly such as:

* The spending by project participants, employees, landowners and others;

* The investment in assets for infrastructure, education and health; opportunities for local businesses;

* Indirect macroeconomic impacts on GDP, consumption, employment and doubling of foreign currency exchanges; and

* All of these contributing to the upward pressure on the kina.




Teachers reminded



TEACHERS have been reminded to resume duties on Monday, Jan 31, The National reports.

Acting secretary for education Dr Joseph Pagelio said teachers were required by law to complete the resumption of duty summary sheet (RoDSS) on the first day that they resume duty at the school.

“This activity is important because it will confirm that the teacher posted to that school by the national education board (NEB) or provincial education board (PEB) and had actually taken up the duty on the appointed position,” Pagelio said in a statement yesterday.

He said, filling the RoDSS would also determine continuity of the teacher’s salary payments for the year.

Pagelio said principals, head teachers, managers and senior teachers present on the first day of school must check to ensure all entries on RoDSS were completed properly and signed by all teachers.

He said RoDSS must then be forwarded to the provincial education office for teachers in provincial institutions and respective assistant secretaries at Fincorp Haus for teachers in the national institutions for the forms to be submitted to payroll and related services branch within the time-frame.

Pagelio warned that teachers whose RoDSS are not received at Waigani on Feb 28 “will receive their last pay on pay number 5 on March 11”.

He said teachers whose RoDSS are not received at Waigani by Feb 28 would be suspended from the payroll on pay number 6 on March 25.

The secretary urged all officers involved in the resumption exercise to ensure all the necessary forms are completed, checked thoroughly and lodged to the respective offices on the dates stated for the school year to start smoothly.

Pagelio has urged new student intakes for technical, business and polytechnic institutions this year to contact their respective institutions by phone or otherwise before travelling to the college.

Pagelio said students must obtain relevant information about the school fee component prior to their travels on Monday, Feb 7.

He said under the higher education category assistance scheme (HECAS) guidelines, students who have been awarded HECAS at these institutions must pay 75% component of the fees.



Search continues for missing expat



POLICE detectives and homicide squads in Chimbu were deployed to the remote Nondri-Amia area of Gumine district to search for a missing European expatriate, The National reports.

The European of Belgium origin, identified only Tony, at this stage was kidnapped by members of Gorekulame sub-clan of Sa tribe last Wednesday and his whereabout is not known, according to police.

Chimbu police commander Chief Insp John Kale deployed the special squad to the area to assist Gumine district police.

He said the pregnant wife of the expatriate was allegedly abducted by more than 10 attackers who repeatedly raped her for at least two days before she was rescued by members of Toma and Barama sub-clans of Sa tribe of Nondri-Amia area.

Kale said two suspects were arrested and are remanded at Kundiawa police cell; they were picked-up by Gumine police at Dirima station when they came out to sell a pig.

He said police would thoroughly investigate to confirm the allegations of rape and ascertain reports of the murder of the expatriate.

“Upon police investigation and confirmation it will determine whether the European man is still alive or dead, he could have escaped or was taken into hiding by other people.It is not yet known at this stage of his whereabouts.

“We expect to make more arrests soon,” Kale said.

He said the pregnant wife, who was recovering at Nondri Health Centre, was brought into Gumine district station and to Kundiawa yesterday afternoon.

She will be admitted at the Kundiawa General Hospital to recover.

Kale went into Gumine yesterday afternoon to be with the investigation team.

Early reports from Gumine stated that expatriate was kidnapped at Kegama village and taken to Morokul village at around 10am last Wednesday.

He was tied to a post inside a house before his kidnappers took his pregnant wife, of mixed Jiwaka and Manus parentage, to a nearby bush where more than 10 men raped her.

The attackers later took the husband (Tony) into a bush where he still remained missing.

The wife was then taken into captivity where they allegedly continued to rape her until the next day.

Gumine district administration assisted police with logistics to look for the missing man.




Agiru: I didn't make any commitments

ONE politician accused by Hides 4 landowner leaders of making commitments which the government cannot meet, yesterday threw out the accusations against him as “absolute lies” and without basis, The National reports.

Southern Highlands Governor Anderson Agiru challenged the leaders to name the specific instances when he had made any commitments to them.

On Tuesday, Erick Ayule, chairman of Girira Hides 4 Joint Venture, the umbrella company

of Hides 4 PDL 7, claimed that Agiru had promised landowner chiefs from PDL7 K1 million each at the Kokopo umbrella benefits sharing agreement meeting and at the license based benefits sharing agreement meetings.

The governor angrily reputed this yesterday and said he never made commitments which his own government had not budgeted for nor obligation to pay.

Agiru said: “I have never made any commitments to any body relating to the LNG and certainly nothing in the amounts spoken off.

“I do not make commitments that I cannot deliver.

“In fact, I have been angry with ministers who have made commitments in the millions of kina without the money being budgeted for.”

He said a payment of K2 million had been paid to chiefs of Hiwa and Tuguba of PDL1 (Kutubu) after the LBBSA talks on their assertion that they had protected the licence area.

“That was paid by Waigani to the chiefs, not I,” Agiru said.

“I defend my people’s right to everything that is rightly owed to them and which has not been coming to them but I will not ask for another toea more or give them anything just because they ask for it.

“That would not be right.

“They ought to know by now that I do not hand out money or make commitments I can not deliver.”

Agiru said government ought to appoint only one person now to be the person responsible for LNG so that landowners as well as the operator and joint venture partners knew who to approach with any issue pertaining to the project.

He said presently there were too many ministers involved in the project and that it would be very easy for anyone to be confused, particularly landowners.


City-based landowners converge on prime minister's office



MORE than 200 frustrated landowners from the liquefied natural gas project areas in Southern Highlands yesterday marched to the prime minister’s Morauta Haus office to petition the government over their outstanding claims, The National reports.

The claims were related to outstanding LNG business development grants, memorandum of agreement funds and ministerial commitments.

The petition also touched on business spin-off benefits, environmental issues, equities, social mapping and land demarcation and relocation issues.

Earlier, the petitioners had gathered at the Unagi oval at Gordon, hoping that someone would turn up to receive their list of demands.

At Morauta Haus, they had hoped to meet with chief secretary to government Manasupe Zurenuoc.

However, Zurenuoc’s executive officer Kelly Kalit, executive director policy and coordination Avei Puka and executive corporate director Michael Nunulrea met the landowners and advised them that the chief secretary was not available and would meet with them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, chief landowner Philip Undialu said from Hides, through a text mobile phone message, that Hides 4 would remain shut for 11 days while petitions from the Wita clans of Hides PDL1 and Kobalu camp were addressed.

He warned that a negative feedback would mean an end to the project.

Reports from Tari said several other landowner groups were meeting at the Ambua Lodge.

No details were available.

Cabinet met yesterday to discuss the LNG landowners’ issue.

A group of Koiari landowners in Central also joined the LNG landowners, petitioning the government to pay them for the use of their water for hydro electricity and general consumption in NCD.

They said, for 60 years, they had waited patiently.

The Koiari landowners would also present their petition to Zurenuoc tomorrow.



Owners of gas will also suffer

Government vows to find money and settle promises




LANDOWNERS are punishing themselves as well as ExxonMobil and the state through unnecessary stop-work and delay on the PNG liquefied natural gas project, National Planning Minister Paul Tiensten said last night, The National reports.

He said the landowners were eroding the value of their own shares by their actions.

“They are punishing themselves further with delay in dividends and royalties,” Tiensten said after emerging from a protracted cabinet meeting where, it was understood, the stopwork at Hides 4 was the main agenda for discussion.

Also yesterday:

* Landowner representatives in Port Moresby marched to Morauta House to petition the government over delays in memorandum of agreement funds, business development grants and unfulfilled ministerial commitments;

* Gobe petroleum development licence (PDL) 4 landowners in Southern Highlands yesterday threatened to shut down the LNG production facility over alleged misuse of their K8.2 million seed capital funds; and

* Government team leader and Foreign Affairs Minister Don Polye presented his report on his trip to Hides 4 to the government.

Tiensten said the national government would deliver project related grants to improve the lives of Southern Highlands and not cash handouts.

“We must change the cash hand-out mentality in Southern Highlands. We want people to have a sustainable life long after the gas is gone,” Tiensten said.

Tiensten also urged landowners to allow the project to proceed as further delays would directly cost the state, which has a 19.4% stake including landowners (7%), a lot.

“We must all be responsible because such actions will erode the net value of the project and that will be an additional cost to the state including the landowners and joint venture partners.

“Do not think you are punishing the state and ExxonMobil; landowners too will suffer.

“You are eroding the value of your shares by your actions.”

He said some of the commitments made at the UBSA and LBBSA were not captured in this year’s budget; however, money would be sourced from the current basket to meet these commitments.

“We will be going up to the field to deliver various commitments in this year’s budget after all government processes is completed.”