Australian High Commission
Papua New Guinea

151119 PHAMA Speech

Speech by
Mr Rod Hilton, Minister Counsellor - Australian High Commission


LAGUNA HOTEL, 19 November 2015

I would like to acknowledge the presence of:-

• Dr Pat Ila’ava - Secretary Department of Agriculture & Livestock
• Mr Joel Alu, Acting Managing Director – National Agricultural & Quarantine Inspection Authority
• Sarah Nicholson Program Manager - AECOM
• Guy Redding Team Leader (PHAMA)
• Sydney Suma, PHAMA PNG In-Country Manager

The Australian Government is committed to development assistance that promotes economic development and poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea.

An important part of this is agriculture and I am therefore pleased to represent the Australian High Commission at the launch the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program in Papua New Guinea today.

Recognising the potential for PNG to benefit from PHAMA support to connect the local agriculture sector to global markets, the Australian Government has committed five million Australian dollars, ten million Kina, for PHAMA implementation over the next two years.

The agriculture sector plays a vital role in Papua New Guinea’s prosperity. Over 70 per cent of the country’s population relies on the land through subsistence farming and to provide an income source.

PNG’s people have grown local agricultural products for millennia using traditional farming methods suited to PNG’s unique geography and climate.

Today’s global agriculture market provides new opportunities to develop trading partnerships that bring these products to the global stage, providing new sources of sustainable and profitable income.

PHAMA has been successful in expanding this space for neighbouring countries in the Pacific region. PHAMA has provided market-access already supporting and facilitating strong public-private partnerships throughout the Pacific.

For instance:-
• Cocoa from the Solomon Islands recently won the international cocoa awards in Paris, France – ahead of 144 other samples – dramatically raising the profile of Solomon Islands cocoa amongst chocolate producers the world over

• In another example, Tonga is undergoing a quality assurance process to export squash to China – one of the world’s biggest import markets.

• PHAMA continues to support the export of Solomon Islands fish to the European Union.

We look forward to seeing these types of activities initiated here in PNG, and working with key people in sectors to explore and identify niche export opportunities.

Another key element of PHAMA is bringing the private sector and the Government of PNG together to unlock the potential of PNG’s agriculture sector.

The strong focus on partnerships reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting better relationships between public and private sector stakeholders, under our new Private Sector Development Framework.

The Framework, which was agreed with the Government of PNG, guides the Australian High Commission’s support to private sector led-growth and aid for trade initiatives, based around four pillars of focus:
• helping to build the business enabling environment
• working in rural development, markets and trade for agricultural goods
• supporting innovation and partnerships with private sector and less traditional partners
• and a big effort on financial inclusion and literacy.

By 2017, aid for trade activities will make up 30 per cent of the Australian aid program in PNG.

The Framework has a strong emphasis on women’s economic empowerment across all pillars and we cannot forget the significant role women play in the agricultural sector. The barriers to financial independence faced by women in the Pacific are significant – and they represent real barriers to their ability to take on the fullest range of economic and social roles they might like to play.

Women must be included at all stages of planning and development to facilitate the development of economically secure agribusiness to benefit individual Papua New Guineans and also contribute to the economic growth of the nation.

I look forward to hearing PHAMA’s success stories in PNG in the future. Thank you and all the best in your deliberations today.