By Jonny Andrew
Since 1960, the world population has more than doubled, from approximately 2.9 billion in 1960 to more than 6.7 billion today. The demands placed on global agricultural production arising out of population and income growth almost tripled. Global agriculture has been successful in meeting this increase in demand. Steady growth in agricultural output and a long-term decline in real commodity prices attest to this success. While the 820 million undernourished people in developing countries must not be forgotten, it should also be recognized that the proportion of people suffering from hunger has fallen by half since the 1960s, from more than on-in-three to one-in-six, even as world’s population has doubled. Progress is possible
Agricultural growth contributes directly to food security. It also supports poverty reduction. And it acts as an engine of overall economic growth in much of the developing world. The success of the agricultural sector has not been shared uniformly across regions and countries, however, and it is unclear whether this success can be sustained much less extended to those left behind. Many of the least developed countries, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa and in marginal production environments across the developing world, continue to experience low or stagnant agricultural productivity, rising food deficits, and high levels of hunger and poverty.
Papua New Guinea is not an exception to this and according the National Agricultural Research Institute Corporate Plan 2002-2004, “PNG has been identified by FAO as a country with poor food security. This is evident with increasing volumes of food imports, declining purchasing power and indicators of malnutrition.”
Rice is a staple for nearly half of the world’s seven billion people. However, more than 90% of this rice is consumed in Asia, where it is a staple for a majority of the population, including the region’s 560 million hungry people.
The success of the Green Revolution in the early 1960s witnessed a steady rise in Asia’s rice consumption. Outside Asia, rice consumption continues to rise steadily, with the fastest growth in sub-Saharan Africa. In the past two decades, per capita rice consumption in sub- Saharan Africa (SSA) has increased by more than 50%. Similarly, rice consumption continues to grow steadily in both the United States and the European Union as consumers diversify from protein to more fiber-based diets and also because of rising Asian immigrants. In Papua New Guinea, rice continues to be the main food for many consumers.
According to ADB Working Paper on ASEAN and Global Rice Situation and Outlook 2012, Rice output is expected to grow more with the ever increasing population growth.
Source: ADB Sustainable Development Series Working Paper Series – August 2012
The World Bank has already supported Rice Sector Development as a poverty Reduction tool in Greater Mekong Sub-region and even in the African countries. Yet it has turned a blind eye on Papua New Guinea and its fight for food security.
The question we should all be asking now is……..why hasn’t Papua New Guinea investing more into Agriculture and in particularly Rice?