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Posts Tagged ‘land grab’

Filipino land grab doubles to 2 million hectares

March 28, 2018 Leave a comment

“Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil [sic] instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.”

The problem is, the PNG government doesn’t have even 100,000 hectares of land, let alone 2 million hectares. So whose land are they going to use – and how many Filipino rice farmers are we going to allow into the country?

See also:

Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

O’Neill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab

On Piñol’s idea to rise with rice in Papua New Guinea

Source: Michael Makabenta Alunan – Business Mirror

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol’s proposal to “export” Filipino private sector-led rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea may have raised condescending eyebrows from economists and agriculture experts, but his novel strategy can perhaps open up vast potentials and unintended opportunities.

Thinking out of box? Piñol, a boxing aficionado early on in his career, even as a former journalist, long before he joined politics, was thinking out of the box when he proposed to bring high-end Filipino rice-farming systems to Papua New Guinea.

Only over a week ago, Piñol went to Papua New Guinea, a British Commonwealth Realm, and got its Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to commit to come over to meet with President Duterte sometime in May and possibly cement bilateral economic commitments, followed by a treaty that can institutionalize any mutually beneficial arrangements.

However, top-notch economists and agricultural planners led no less by former Socioeconomic Secretary Dr. Cielito Habito and former Agriculture Secretary William Dar have criticized Piñol, asking two valid questions: 1) Why focus on “rice self-sufficiency” when we cannot compete against Thailand’s and Vietnam’s production costs of rice at P5 to P6 per kilo against P10 to P12 per kilo in the Philippines? Many economists would therefore advise to give up the elusive goal of self-sufficiency, and settle instead for food security while focusing on higher incomes from other high-value cash crops and livelihood activities; and 2) Why go to Papua New Guinea when we have more problems locally?

Can’t do away with rice yet. Speaking on March 22 before the 2017 Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. and San Miguel Corp.’s BINHI Agricultural Journalism Awards, Piñol argued we cannot simply abandon rice self-sufficiency, unless Filipinos change their diets and reduce their rice consumption.

For the poor, who survive on a hand-to-mouth existence, 80 percent to 90 percent of their income is spent on food, the bulk on rice to fill their hungry stomachs and less on real food. A study by Professor Jeyakumar, a rice dietary expert and one-time fellow of the International Rice Research Institute, noted that obesity of Westerners like the Americans is caused by almost 40 percent in high-fat diets, compared to Asians, whose average diets are composed of 67 percent carbohydrates, mostly rice, and only 21 percent fats. For the dirt poor, rice may even share as much as 90 percent of their diet.

As our traditional sources of rice imports, Vietnam and Thailand are also vulnerable to climate change with Thailand devastated by a tsunami years back, Piñol claims we must continue aiming for rice self-sufficiency and developing alternative sources like Papua New Guinea.

It’s no “Guinea pig,” it’s real! Piñol argues the rice-farming potentials in Papua New Guinea are real and tremendous based on actual pilot results. This makes Piñol’s idea no longer a “guinea-pig experiment,” referring to how scientists use rodents or laboratory rats, popularly called “guinea pigs.”

Actual rice-farming experiments done in Papua New Guinea yielded 8.5 metric tons per hectare, even without fertilizers, even double our national average yield of 4MT per hectare, he revealed in conversations while seated at the BINHI awards.

The reasons for this are 1) Papua New Guinea is blessed with good rainfall with its remaining lush forests and watersheds as evidenced by its vast rivers as wide as a kilometer, and easily diverted to feed irrigation canals; and 2) Papua New Guinea’s farm soils are vastly virgin and rich, unlike Philippine rice lands that are already toxic from four to five decades of chemical fertilizer and pesticide usage.

All the land to offer. Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil instantly offered 100,000 hectares for planting even starting tomorrow, but can develop easily 2 million hectares in government lands for rice farming with irrigation.

“PNG has only 8 million people and over 46.28 million hectares of land, mostly forest and agricultural lands, compared to our 105 million and 30 million hectares, respectively,” Piñol said.

Rice farming will mutually benefit both countries. Rice farming will be done exclusively by the private sector, but can tap Filipino workers. Any excess produce can be exported cheap to the Philippines, and any excess exported worldwide. For Papua New Guinea, producing its own rice is novel, as it had long been sourcing rice from former surrogate colonizer, Australia, which allegedly imports cheap rice from Vietnam, then sells it to Papua New Guinea by as much as P100 per kilo.

Pursuing the Papua New Guinea option is logical for Piñol, as we have limited rice lands of 4.8 million hectares. In fact, only 3.9 million hectares are planted to rice, of which only 1.2 million hectares have irrigation, the remaining 2.7 million hectares are rain-fed areas producing only once a year at low yields.

New sites, new sights? As an island archipelago, we have fewer flat lands suitable to rice producing thrice a year, but more sloping mountain areas with mixed eco-systems, including adjacent marine and mangrove areas. Piñol added traditional rice sites like Luzon and Bicol are ravaged yearly by 21 typhoons a year.

We won’t abandon these areas, but we need to develop new sites like Palawan, Samar, Agusan, Zamboanga, Davao, Basilan and Soccsksargen and, of course, in Papua New Guinea.

Piñol declared earlier that even former warzones in Mindanao and portions of military reservations like Fort Magsaysay’s 46,000 hectares, can be converted to production areas. This will realize the biblical phrase of “converting swords to ploughshares,” which we can call transforming arms into farms.

While Piñol is confident of hitting 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by 2020, he says the growing population will overtake our capacity to produce. Thus, the need to develop new sites, and the urgency to keep our sights on new ideas, new technologies and even achieve unintended opportunities, which, ironically, are the very intended targets of our economists and experts. As we gain from new sites, old sites may slowly shift to non-rice, but more profitable commodities and other agro-processing ventures.

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Filipino’s on their way to claim 1 million hectares

March 7, 2018 3 comments

PNG’s Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Philippine’s Agriculture Secretary, Pinol

Media in the Philippines is reporting – see below – their Agriculture Secretary is in Port Moresby this week to sign a deal with the PNG government allowing Filipino farmers to plant rice on 1 million hectares of land. Is nobody concerned about this huge land grab and the influx of foreign workers?

Papua New Guinea rice-planting deal expected this week

Source: Business World

THE Philippines will sign this week an agricultural agreement allowing Filipino companies to expand their rice planting operations in Papua New Guinea.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said he will be flying to Papua New Guinea on Wednesday to finalize the deal, which will also include further cooperation in the tuna fishing industry.

“Our interest in Papua New Guinea also includes tuna fishing. We have five canneries owned by Filipinos in Papua New Guinea and we have long been dealing with them,” he told reporters Monday.

He said rice planting in Papua New Guinea helps address the issue of limited area for rice planting in the Philippines, as well as demand from the growing population.

The government-to-government agreement involves projected output of 8 million metric tons on an area of about 1 million hectares within five years. Some of the output will be sold to meet Papua New Guinea domestic demand while the remainder will be purchased by the National Food Authority.

The deal also involves a 100-hectare model farm for use by Filipino companies such as SL Agritech Corp., a producer of hybrid rice seed.

“We are encouraging private companies to invest there so that instead of importing from Thailand or Vietnam, our Filipino companies can invest there instead,” Mr. Piñol said.

O’Neill and Allan stitch up another huge land grab

February 22, 2018 6 comments

Philippine’s President Duterte and his Agriculture Secretary want to plant 1 million hectares of rice in Papua New Guinea by 2023

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Agriculture Minister Benny Allan have promised the Philippines government at least one million hectares of land in Papua New Guinea for Filipino farmers to grow rice, according to media reports.

The 1 million hectares [10,000 square kilometres] will be leased to Filipino companies and thousands of Filipino farmers and agriculture graduates are expected to head to PNG, according to the country’s Agriculture Secretary, Emmanuel F. Piñol.  

The Philippines government says the 1 million hectares of rice is just its initial five-year target. That means by 2023, over 2% of the total area of PNG could be in Filipino hands.

Information on the rice growing deal first started to emerge after a meeting between Prime Minister O’Neill and President Duterte, at the APEC summit in Vietnam in November last year .

More details of the deal were agreed between Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Piñol in Manilla earlier this month. 

Agriculture Minister Benny Allan and Agriculture Secretary,Emmanuel Pinol

The deal is expected to be finalised in Port Moresby early next month with a delegation led by the Philippines Agriculture Secretary set to travel on March 7.

Initially a team of 22 Filipino farmers will come to PNG to start the development of a 100-hectare demonstration farm within the Seventh Day Adventist College compound outside Port Moresby.  The Philippines government hopes that President Duterte will visit the demonstration farm when he attends the APEC Summit in November.

The whole land grab has been developed on the back of APEC and is a perpetuation of the false narrative that PNG’s customary land is idle and must be ‘freed up’ for foreigners to bring development.

The truth is, customary land already supports an economy worth as much as K40 billion a year, far bigger than the resource extraction industries the government obsesses over. Customary land also provides jobs for 3 million farmers and supports a rural population of 7 million. Customary land is set to  become even more important in the future, with PNG’s population set to grow to over 13 million by 2050.  

Meanwhile, opposition to the rice deal is beginning to emerge in the Philippines . Local farmers there say the plan is “an insult” to them and Filipino farmers were fully capable of producing all their countries rice needs locally. They say the plan is “very anti-farmer as well as against the poor”, sentiments that will resonate equally in Papua New Guinea.

Ten month delay on Manumanu inquiry is unacceptable

December 18, 2017 Leave a comment

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has been vocal in the media recently telling anti-corruption warriors to be patient and wait for the results of an administrative inquiry into the alleged illegal Manumanu land deals – transactions involving millions of kina in state funds and hundreds of hectares of land.

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But it has already been ten months since the scandal erupted in the media. It was early February when the Prime Minister promised three investigations, a Commission of Inquiry (later downgraded to an Administrative Inquiry) a police fraud squad investigation and an Ombudsman Commission inquiry.

Now the Prime Minister says the Administrative Inquiry is yet to complete its investigations and the results will be known in an ‘appropriate timeframe’ but given no clue as to what that means.

Meanwhile the people implicated in the scandal and their party are back at the heart of government and the police and Ombudsman Commission are completely silent.

Justice delayed is justice denied and we are all victims of government corruption; corruption that O’Neill is happy to see continue while he sits on his hands.

Yet another unlawful attempt to log Collingwood Bay

October 28, 2017 1 comment

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker

Industry observer: “This is a complete nonsense… a cocoa project simply doesn’t need a massive hectarage, involving massive forestry clearance and equipment… It’s clearly another completely fraudulent exercise, made easier by the lack of penalties imposed upon the existing SABL perpetrators”

By Lester Seri

The National Forest Authority has granted permission for logging in the Collingwood Bay area of Northern Province despite the strong opposition of local people.

This is the third attempt at large-scale commercial logging in the area, the two previous attempts having been successfully defeated through the courts.

It is understood Northern Forest Products Ltd and Aisor Development Corporation have been issued a Forest Clearance Authority (FCA) to log Portions 136, 137 and up to Baruga lands  and to the Musa river.

According to the maps seen, its seems the entire Collingwood Bay area is to be consumed by logging under the pretext of planting cocoa.

Local people have been given no information about the proposed logging and have not seen a copy of the FCA proposal, or any approval granted by the National Forest Board or the Forest Minister.

Requests to the Forest Authority for these documents have gone unanswered and local people are totally in the dark as to how the authorities could give approval without even consulting local people and without ensuring their consent.

Meanwhile a company (allegedly involving a Malaysian and some Wanigela landowners) has been landing logging equipment at  Wanigela since April this year. The equipment is being stored at Naukwat village, a home to one of the people known to have been directly involved in the illegal Collingwood Bay SABL that was declared illegal by the National Court in June 2014.

Collingwood Bay landowners are at a loss to understand the continuing defiance by the National Forest Authority to grant licences for logging concessions in their area despite court rulings after court ruling in favour of the landowners that span nearly 30 years.

There are rumours that the Provincial Government and the Administration are in support of a cocoa project in Collingwood Bay, and it is alleged that the new FCA and movement of logging machineries have their approval?

Questions asked are:

  1. Why have the landowners not been officially made aware of this government sanctioned cocoa project?
  2. Why does the cocoa planting require bulldozers, jinkers and graders, when the landowners need only knives, spades and axes to plant cocoa.

The Baruga landowners have already put up tabu markings stopping anybody moving into their private land.

The National Forest Authority has miserably failed many landowning communities’ in Papua New Guinea over the years and continues to do so in Collingwood Bay through the illegal SABL and now this suspect FCA.

The Collingwood Bay people have held community consultation forums since 2014 and have unanimously agreed to pursuing their own Community Conservation Initiative. This received final community approval in April 2017, and funding support has been secured.

It seems the National Forest Authority is intent on deliberately truncating / DESTROYING the Communities’ Conservation Initiative over 650,000 hectares of land by encouraging logging without the consent of the local people.

I AM OF THE STRONG VIEW THAT IT IS TIME FOR THE ENTIRE COLLINGWOOD BAY COMMUNITIES’ TO CONVERGE AT WANIGELA AND DEMAND AN EXPLANATION FROM THOSE CONCERNED, THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION, AND THE RESPECTIVE FORESTRY OFFICES IN PORT MORESBY AND POPONDETTA.

The faces behind some of PNGs illegal logging

August 18, 2017 2 comments

Chih-hao Chang, Hung Chin Ng and Sie Miew Tiong are the owners of Achim Agro Limited, a company accused by locals of illegally logging in East Sepik Province – see story below. The reports of SGS, the company that is supposed to monitor all log exports from PNG, contain no record of Achim Agro Limited.

Chang, who is Chinese, Ng and Tiong, who are Malaysian, are also the owners of two other PNG registered companies, Grace Foremost Limited and Wewak Cocoa Limited. All three companies were registered in 2016.

via Facebook

There is a Chinese Timber company “ACHIM ECO FORESTRY COMPANY” who has destroyed Turubu and has shifted their operations to Kauk in West Coast Dagua in East Sepik. They have destroyed and stolen a great deal of timber without paying the landowners and are now looking at grabbing our land by conning some of my relatives and KAIKAI man from SMAIN and BUT villages.

ACHIM have paid them lousy thousands of Kina to go in and harvest the timber. We have taken out a preventative order to stop them and we will be in court with them next week.

Governor Allan BirdKevin Isifu & Richard Maru, we need your help in removing this illegal company, grabbing land from ignorant land owners and making false promises to them.

Papua New Guinea land activist vows to battle for his people from Britain

August 9, 2017 2 comments

Leader of the Paga Hill seafront community Joe Moses, pictured in London, July 11, 2017. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Nicky Milne

Ruairi Casey for the Thomson Reuters Foundation

A land activist from Papua New Guinea at loggerheads with the police and developers in his home country has vowed to continue the fight for his community from Britain.

Joe Moses has accused PNG authorities of treating people unfairly in demolishing the Paga Hill seafront settlement in the capital Port Moresby to make way for a luxury hotel and apartments development and a ring road.

The government granted a lease to the Paga Hill Development Company (PHDC), a joint venture between local and international investors, to build on Paga Hill.

A Supreme Court ruling said the reclaimed seafront area was not included in the original lease but Moses said, unknown to the community, this land was leased by the state to developers during legal proceedings.

Moses, who features in a newly released documentary “The Opposition: Paga Hill“, said the settlement, dating back about 70 years, was home to about 2,000 people who had customary rights to the land and should have been allowed to stay.

“The whole community was a vibrant community,” Moses told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London where he is seeking asylum while his wife and children remain in Port Moresby.

“I just miss home every day, every minute of the day when I’m here.”

POLICE DENY INTIMIDATION

Moses, a former university worker, said his clash with authorities dated back to May 2012 when he led a fight in the courts to stop development.

In October that year, he said a policeman arrived at his home seeking his arrest without charge and shortly afterwards he went into hiding in an army barracks with his family.

He stayed in Port Moresby but his concerns for his safety grew in 2014 when armed police forced out the remaining residents from the Paga Hill settlement and their homes were bulldozed.

“I realized they were still after me,” said Moses. “I was not free to go to public places, public gatherings; all my communications were tapped.”

The police, however, accused Moses of discharging a gun, resisting arrest and causing civil unrest.

In a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a police spokesman denied allegations of intimidation and accused Moses of seeking fame from an international audience.

“There is no threat whatsoever on Joe Moses. He can come home anytime he wants to. There has been and will be no intimidation,” the spokesman said in an email.

Moses said with the assistance of international NGOs he was able to secure a flight from Papua New Guinea to Panama in November 2016 and then onto Britain.

“The most important thing is I need to get my family out … we need to be safe somewhere while waiting for the situation to change,” he said.

Moses said he hoped he will be able to return to Papua New Guinea someday to continue his fight to get fair compensation for his community, many of whom are still living in tents on a relocation site without suitable water and sewerage facilities.

A PHDC statement said the company was “proud of having achieved the first privately-funded squatter settlement relocation in PNG” with the site handed over in 2014.

“The fact that the relocation site was officially handed over almost three years ago, as well as that many settlers have since on-sold and moved on, PHDC can in no way be reasonably held accountable for the current state of the relocation site, or for those that PHDC relocated,” PHDC’s statement said.

Moses, however, vowed to press on with his campaign.

“I know that I will face consequences, but someone has to do something … If it means life and death I will have to do this – because someone has to do something to help the people,” he said.