Today, Secretary of the Eastern Highlands Agricultural Society, Solepa Aganisafa, said that the next government formed after the 2022 National General Elections must make Agriculture its top priority.
In the last term of Parliament, he said we had two governments, but agriculture was never a priority. Past and present, successful governments never seriously prioritized the Agriculture sector.
There have been instances of lost opportunities and misplacement of resources due to Government indecisiveness and bureaucratic red tape in the past. Yet the Agriculture sector in this country continues to sustain the bulk of our 10 million plus people who live off the land.
He said, "Agriculture is still our safety net and a sustainer of our economy. Our country is blessed with all the natural resources, but our social and economic indicators show otherwise that we are still struggling. We do not even have a welfare system in place for our citizens despite all the mining and LNG projects coming on."
Mr. Aganisafa said he is concerned about the burgeoning unemployment rate and idle labor that continuously roam the street of the towns and cities daily. "They are now becoming a concern and a burden on society. We are now complaining about social, law, and order issues in our society. Who do we blame for all of these social ills?"
"Our people now do not want to work on the land anymore. They want free education, they want the government and their elected leaders to pay for hauskrai, brideprice, compensation, and they are writing letters and proposal after proposal. In their bags and bilums are stacks of yellow envelopes that they are hopeful will induce an intervention. We have created a "Cargo Cult" generation and mentality, and that is detrimental to the well-being and progress of our country. We must now hold our leaders, past and present responsible and accountable."
He said, "members of Parliament have all the resources parked at their disposal at the provincial and district level to design interventions through their Ward Development Committees to create opportunities for their people and arrest the high employment rate and rural urban drift. They had access to constitutional and non-constitutional grants such as PSIP, DSIP, and Covid assistance packages to Agriculture, SMEs, etc. But they have failed in their responsibility and do not deserve to be re-elected."
Mr. Aganisafa appealed to the people and eligible voters throughout the country to scrutinize all candidates, including current MPs and political parties, and vote for those with genuine intentions and a policy focus on Agriculture. "The days of grandstanding and political rhetoric on Agricultural are over."
Agriculture has the answers to all our problems and must be the top priority for the next government in July.
For more information:
Eastern Highlands Agricultural Society
Papua New Guinea