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Major ban on fruit and vegetable imports

Tuesday 18 August 2015 | Published in Regional


PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Agriculture and Livestock Minister Tommy Tomscoll has announced a major ban on the import of more than ten different fruits and vegetables.

And he is seriously considering further ban of imports products – those from China and Asia – and particularly those products with labels in languages other than English.

Domestic agriculture production and market access has been concerning local authorities for some time.

Tomscoll announced the major ban on Friday, saying it would remain in place “until dialogue and protocols are established with the countries’ of origin.”

On the banned list are potato, bulb onion, cabbage, carrot, tomato, capsicum, pumpkin, peas, zucchini, egg plant, Chinese cabbage, French bean, lettuce and celery.

Tomscoll signed off on the ban last Tuesday and it was published the next day in the National Gazette.

Tomscoll had given advance notice of his intentions to impose this ban in his closing address at the Agriculture Stock-Take Forum last Thursday.

He said then that he was prepared to defend these bans in international forums.

He has been concerned about the free access to domestic markets in Papua New Guinea of fruits and vegetables which can be grown and supplied locally given encouragement.

He has stated that a ban of these selected fruits and vegetables – if the ban on import of uncooked poultry from Australia is any indications – would grow small and medium enterprises.

He has also expressed concern that there is a mismatch between where developmental partners trade to make money and where they channel their aid funds – usually in the social sectors and in good governance initiatives.

Tomscoll said the fruit and vegetable ban will improve the local small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.

The SME sector that has taken a large hit from government investment since the PNG Treasury revealed the country was facing an economic crisis, reportedly delaying loans to the nation’s key investment bank.

Farmers across PNG have welcomed the move to agricultural self reliance.

“It’s not that locals can’t produce quality and quantity, but it’s the markets that have been dominated by imported vegetables that discouraged our people,” Western Highlands farmer Berry Maip said.

PNG is traditionally a subsistence-farming nation with little knowledge of agriculture commercialization.

Maip said farmers in Papua New Guinea would require assistance on the technical aspects of commercialisation.