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Old 28-09-2002, 10:55 AM
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Food Security, a growing concern in PNG

PNG gives priority to food production in the face of a declining economy.

Food is the most important of all basic necessities. You can go without clothing and shelter, particularly in tropical PNG, but to forego food is to court death.

Yet policies and programs pertaining to food production and security has been neglected for a long time in PNG.

Papua New Guinea government agricultural policy in the past has stressed the production of export tree crops.

Emphasis on food production has, to some extent, been secondary.

With the population growing at over 3 per cent per annum, and faced with weak economic growth and the declining value of the kina, the government has only recently come to realise that food production is important not only to improve nutrition but also to replace the very high import bill on food products.

The government is now consciously pushing for increased food security and improving the marketing of local food crops to substitute for imported foods.

A National Food Security Secretariat has been established for the first time by the National Government to implement this program.

Food Security

Food Security exists when all people at all times have access to safe and sufficient food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and heatlhy life.

Food security is not the same as self sufficiency in food. A nation, or a region, may be self sufficient in locally produced food and yet may have inadequate food security.
Conversely a nation may be food secure, but may not be self sufficient in all foods.

Food Security is generally good in PNG. There are two major reasons for this:
  • the introduction and adoption of new species including sweet potato, cassave, Chinese taro, and maize, which offer advantages over other crops; and
  • the development of the cash economy which has enabled many people to purchase food with cash when their own subsistence supply is insufficient.

Despite the sweeping changes that have occurred in PNG, especially over the past century, both rural and urban people are still vulnerable to short term and long term food supply problems.

Waghi boys returning home with a successful catch. Inland fish farming is providing an alternative protein source for the highlands.
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