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ABG Minister for Primary Industries updates House on progress

ABG Minister for Primary Industries Hon. Geraldine Paul presented her Department’s progressive updates in parliament this week.

Minister Paul said that all their activities are being guided by their Corporate Plan 2018-2022, as well as the Sharp Agreement signed in 2021 on the transfer of powers and functions.

Speaking on the Bougainville Agricultural Commodities Regulatory Act 2020(BACRA), Minister Paul says her department is working closely with the Department of Law and Justice to provide guidance on the legislation and policy process towards establishing the commodity entities in Bougainville.

Once established, these entities will be responsible for managing and regulating various commodities in Bougainville and contribute to revenue generation for the region.

Earlier this year, the Bougainville Executive Council endorsed the Bougainville Cocoa Regulations for immediate implementation and Minister Paul says her department is working on this as a matter of priority to ensure that this becomes a subsidiary law to the Bougainville Commodities Regulatory Act 2020.

Minister Paul says the implementation of the Cocoa Regulations will ensure that all cocoa levy fees are retained in Bougainville and will form part of the government’s revenue, and her department has this task as a priority for 2022.

In terms of infrastructure, Minister Paul informed the House that the BACRA research facility is currently under construction and will be completed by June this year. She also acknowledged the Australian Government for funding the BACRA facility.

“Within the BACRA office there is a data centre for all commodity data and information including other DPI functions,” she said.

This data centre will host all information that will be transferred from the PNG Cocoa Board on Bougainville cocoa production and other related information.

Minister Paul further acknowledged the ongoing support through the Australia Centre for International Research (ACIAR) specifically through the cocoa value chain conducting Research and Development focused on improving production, profitability and sustainability of cocoa farming, understanding and raise awareness on improved nutrition and health, foster innovation and business enterprises development at community level and strengthen value chains for cocoa and associated horticultural products.

Other infrastructure developments under the Department this year includes the refurbishment of the DPI stations in Buin, Konga and Kubu (Buka) respectively.

In terms of the coconut industry, Minister Paul said that there is currently a Memorandum of Agreement between her department and the Kokonas Indastri Koperesen (KIK) where significant work has commenced under this agreement since 2021.

“The two focused areas namely Selau and Haku Community Governments including Halia, have received training, and supplied 50 dryers including to Tinputz and Wakunai towards end of 2021,” she said.

“The farmers are enjoying a good price of K3/kg and this is accompanied by the incentive to directly access MiBank services on spot while receiving their income. The incomes are accessed through ATMs and cuts out the middleman. The shed at Kokopau now holds about 15tonnes of white copra to be shipped out of the Buka port,” she said.

Minister Paul said that her department is aware of the growing demand for white copra training and support facilities, especially from women groups who have shown great interest in virgin coconut oil production and other coconut bi-products training.

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