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Date Posted: Mon, Aug 28 2006, 03:37:49am
Before we can expound on the complementary essence and contribution of road networks and telecommunications infrastructure towards agriculture development in the Enga Province, we must also consider the scarcity of resources to finance peasant farmers before they may be able to earn stable incomes off of their under-utilized land. (In a nation where savings is appallingly low, national expenditures or GDP growth is heavily reliant on government or public spending, though recent gains in private investment, international transfers and trade surpluses may be somewhat temporary.) Most farming units in Enga (or the developing world) may be referred to as households or nucleus estates owned by individual families which are headed by male custodians of customarily owned land. Unfortunately for nucleus estates in the pyrethrum industry (or for coffee and tea), farmers remain oblivious or do not have access to relevant techniques (e.g. irrigation styles), tools (e.g. shovel) and basic crop education (e.g. crop grade/quality) to increase valuable yields per harvest. Hence, Enga (and PNG) annually produces low quantities and inferior qualities of harvest compared to other competiting sovereign nations in the likes of Brazil and Kenya, rendering us as "price-takers", rather than "price-makers".
The productivity of mini-plantations or nucleus estates need to be raised through major capitalizing and monitoring efforts pursued by agriculture funding agencies such as the Agriculture Development Bank of Papua New Guinea. Multilateral aid from the ADB and World Bank intended for PNG's agriculture sector, only trickles through to the Agriculture Develpment Bank of PNG but it can do little more than just issue a limited number of concessional loans to landowners for farming initiatives only. But, such funds may still be used to finance distribution of mobile phones for rural farm users. Farmers need the inexpensive technology of mobile phones to communicate with commodity retailers or buyers about the required crop quantity, quality or time of delivery. If coordination in the industry is upheld between the players (growers, retailers, international buyers), than can Enga or PNG's agriculture revolution be realized!!
However, due to population pressures, Enga must remain wary and needs to maintain income equality and social equilibrium amongst individual farmers as society is bound to face negative industrial repercussions in the monetary economy. (For instance, in the Peruvian experience, large corporate-run plantations crushed small competing farmers, creating landless peasant farmers displaced and impoverished. "Poverty breeds poverty" and thus, PNG's Land Mobilization policy needs to be proactively studied and regulated when private involvement becomes inevitable in the agriculture sector.)
(Marketing researchers of mobile telecommunication firms should be forgiven for believing there is a lack of market in rural areas but this is absolute hogwash! In communal numbers does a market exist! One mobile phone owned by a local farmer (male or female) has the capacity to serve an entire extended family or clan for its communications needs. Members of the community through shared use and cost accountability may be able to share a single cell phone. The success of the relatively inexpensive mobile phone and its immense contribution to the growth of the agricultural industry can be drawn from the Bangladeshi Grameen Phone Ladies experience.)
Education is off-course a necessity to equip the human resource with basic skills for arithmetic, reading, and writing competency. In an economy of PNG's under-developed calibre, an highly intellectual and professional elite class of lawyers, economists and medical doctors has emerged and it continues to widen the rift between the upper class and lower class, which is almost synonymous to inequality between the majority of the rurally poor and the urban rich. (Due to economic constraints and individual pursuits of wealth and self-esteem, human guinea pigs of Enga's free-education system have been sliced in the slaughter houses of urban localities where unemployment is rampant and the temptation to resort to crime tantalizes the human mind. (Ipatas has faithfully funded tertiary institutions with annual budgetary appropriations that continue to maintain such an unequal social status quo as high school pass rates plummet, and provincial agriculture plans are left undeveloped.) The Agriculture Development Bank's local branch in Enga continues to play a surviving game in a highly volatile market where default risks remain incredibly high and government cooperation minimal.
A legislative mechanism is needed to relay public policies of the national government down through its agencies (e.g. Agriculure Development Bank) and departments (Agriculture & Livestock, National Planning) to empower the rural farmers. Furthermore, the PNG constitution needs to be revisited to give new meaning to the term "UNIVERSAL ACCESS" of basic infrastructure services so that it is equally intended for everyone, regardless of locale, race, sex or economic endowment. Furthermore the powers and policy-making agendas of provincial goverments through the Law on Local Level Governments, need to concur to national development policies. Unfortunately, a national dilemma exists where each province is at liberty to endulge in its own serving of petty in-house politics which ultimately draws on public funds contributing to public debt and inefficiencies in the public service!!
(I myself was aggravated by the lack of cooperation among Engan leaders, most especially Karpa Yakka who was a member of the NEC post-June 2002, and had the option to vouch for my father as a fellow Lagaip citizen and Engan to retain his position as one of PNG's most valuable bureaucrats (Secretary for National Planning & Rural Development). I, speak defiantly on my own behalf as the son of Philip Kikala, a leading contesting for the Lagaip/Porgera seat in the 2007 National Elections. He is an intellectual (Masters, Economics - Norwich, UK and Masters, Rural Development - Ottawa, Canada), visionary (e.g. author of the ADB funded Nucleus-Enterprise policy for national agriculture development) and proven leader in both the village and national scene.
To the Karpa Yakka supporters who undeservedly slandered me and my father's good name in mid-2002, I NOW officially respond to your misdemeanor and challenge you to challenge me face-to-face for the SHOWDOWN in Lagaip/Porgera!!)
Stephen Kapusa Kyakala
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