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Minister slams ban on fresh produce import

Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll has slammed a ban on the import of fresh produce into Papua New Guinea.

The ban covers Irish potato, bulb onion and a range of vegetables.

Tomscoll announced the ban during the 2015 Agricultural Innovations Show at Bubia on Wednesday August 12. 

"Our farmers need assistance, not just those in the coffee, cocoa and poultry industries but I thought our people who grow fresh produce need protection from their government," Tomscoll said.

"I am happy but I am also sad to say to those who will be affected that you will no longer import potato into Papua new Guinea. I slam the ban as of today!"

The minister said the ban also covers other fresh produce such bulb onion, capsicum, pumpkins, beans, egg plants, pactchoi, Chinese cabbage, lettuce and carrots.

He said the reasons being that PNG has one of the best biosecurity standards in the world and also PNG farmers can supply those produce locally to the volume and market specifications required in the country.

"My view is that PNG, outside of New Zealand, has a highest biosecurity standard," Tomscoll said.

"And if New Zealand, which is the only country in the world, outside of PNG, has a very high biosecurity standard and can ban all these produce from every other country, than Papua New Guinea will do the same."

Tomscoll said: "It is my position that in our part of the region, Australia bans all poultries, Fiji bans all uncooked poultry products, and New Zealand does the same; so what we have done is we have only joined the queue." 

Tomscoll said it was a hard decision he had to make, but as far as he is concerned, PNG farmers need assistance and protection.

The ban was imposed following earlier announcements on a stop to import of uncooked poultry products and the introduction of the National Rice Policy 2015-2030, which calls for rice traders to invest in local rice production if they want to continue in the industry.

Meanwhile Minister Tomscoll also commended NARI for its contribution to agricultural and rural development.

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