ExxonMobil as operator of the PNG LNG Project, is helping to establish a new public private partnership with the aim of advancing commercial agriculture in the Hela Province of Papua New Guinea.
The proposed venture is led by Innovative Agro Industry in partnership with the PNG LNG Project, co-venture partner MRDC, the Hela Provincial Government and Tari-Pori, Koroba-Kopiago and Komo Margarima local level governments.
The proposed venture will train and equip small-holder farmers to first produce stock feed and vegetables in Hela Province and, over time, endeavor to rejuvenate the local coffee industry.
The unique public private partnership has been formed through the efforts of ExxonMobil PNG, and Innovative Agro Industries to help create a sustainable pathway to commercially scale the agricultural industry in Hela province.
Innovative Agro Industry Chairman Ilan Weis said smallholder engagement strengthens communities and generates cash incomes, triggering sustainable flow on effects in terms of food security, health, education, development of locally owned small businesses, and improved basic financial literacy. “It has the ability to be a catalyst for rural development," he said.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed to jointly fund the detailed design phase at a cost of PGK10M (US$3.3M).
Activities to be undertaken in Phase 1 include a detailed field analysis of soil and growing conditions; detailed design of the farmer training program; establishment of a training centre and finalisation of all financing agreements and the commercial venture structure. The feasibility study will also include the potential use of the ExxonMobil PNG-operated Komo airfield as one of several logistics options to support the venture.
If the Phase 1 is successful, the venture could be launched in as early as 1Q 2019.
ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Andrew Barry said the PNG LNG Project was committed to driving economic growth and producing significant, lasting benefits.
The agricultural project has the potential to positively impact as many as 5,000 small-holder farmers in Hela Province over the next five years and beyond as well as diversifying the economic base and encouraging the development of additional small enterprises in Hela province.
ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director, Andrew Barry