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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.

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.

Ex-Customs chief against rice monopoly project

January 18, 2012 4 comments

By Simon Eroro

FORMER PNG Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa is seeking legal advice from his lawyers to stop a rice project promoted by Eliana Tjandra from the Papindo Group of companies, a naturalised citizen.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, when interviewed yesterday, said any investments in the country must follow strict procedures and refused to entertain the project.

Mr Juffa said Ms Tjandra has brought in investors from Indonesia and China with the intention to secure vast tracts of land in Central Province to cultivate and sell rice for commercial purposes in the country.

The former PNG Customs boss said Ms Tjandra is currently facing charges of fraud for conspiring with Lands Department officers to illegally obtain titles to parcels of land in Port Moresby and she is out on bail.

Mr Juffa, who is a clan leader from Northern Province, has come out strongly against the project and urged leaders to seek the interests of the people rather then allow what he called “absurd projects” that demeaned and deprived people from exercising their right to conduct business in their own country.

He is adamant that his clan and others in the province would be affected by this project to the extent that they may be unable in the future to engage in the growing and selling of rice.

“Rice has slowly become a popular crop in Oro Province with substantial volumes being grown by villagers who sometimes sell their rice at markets, shops and even to the local schools and hospital,” he said.

Mr Juffa claimed that the project was hostile to the interests of his Soriane clan of more than 5000 people and indeed all Papua New Guineans who are involved in the growing of rice.

“This absurd project seeks to ban the growing and selling of rice by any entity, individual or organisation in the country. It is a project that seeks to marginalise all citizens and prevent them from benefitting from the growing and selling of rice by Papua New Guineans in their own land,” he said.

“While creating a monopoly for a foreign entity…what type of leaders would do this to their own people to demean them and diminish their opportunities whether present or future?”

Mr Juffa said the Government stop the project and stand by the interests of the people rather then facilitate the project. He said authorities must convene necessary discussions to develop policies to develop a rice industry for Papua New Guineans.

“Leaders are elected to serve, promote and protect the interests of their people, those who elected them into parliament for that purpose,” he said. “Having studied the documents and details regarding this project, I am concerned that this effort is harsh and oppressive towards our citizens becoming self sufficient in this regards – growing and selling of rice.”

Mr Juffa said our people who will be affected do not know of this sinister project.

Rice monopoly a dangerous move

January 17, 2012 6 comments

Peter Sharp, Rabaul

THE Americans would like us to believe the Arab Spring came about because the people wanted democracy. That is untrue. The people wanted food at a reasonable price and the Americans and other wanted their oil. It all came together.The criminal invasion of Iraq was as everyone sees now, for oil.

A president whose family business is oil and his vice president whose company services oil fields. The slaughter of people in Tripoli by American and Nato planes and the murder of Gadhafi was also for oil. There is no intervention in Syria because Syria has no oil of any significance and what they have is consigned to the Russians and Chinese and the Americans are not game enough to take on either of them.

In fact the Americans couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag as he has been amply demonstrated in Vietnam and Somalia and now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Can’t fight but they make movies like Good Morning America, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse, Black Hawk Down all to justify why they got their backside kicked by people they despise. What are the new movies to explain Iraq and Afghanistan?

Can’t fight but can assassinate. But this is beside the point. Put up the price of rice and there will be rioting in PNG.

The French Revolution was about Equality and Democracy and Fraternity but it was triggered by a lack of food. When Queen Marie Antoinette was supposedly told that the peasants were revolting because they could not afford bread (which is our equivalent to rice) she is supposedly, incorrectly to have replied … “then give them cake”… and peasants (workers) took her out and cut off her head.

If your people are starving they will cause problems. There were no fat Egyptians or Libyans on the TV screens.

The government cannot go down the path of previous governments in allowing outsiders to take control of food like was done so corruptly with Ramu Sugar and the planned Indonesian takeover of the cocoa industry. Is it surprising that the proposed monopoly of the rice industry is also Indonesian inspired? While we do not eat cocoa directly the proposed Indonesian takeover of the cocoa industry would have had long term disastrous effect.

The sale out of our oil industry is another tale of corruption and woe but nothing affects everyone as much as unaffordable rice.

Yes, we should all be eating kaukau and taro and yams because they provide approximately 100% more energy per hectare than does rice but we are used to rice and we don’t really grow rice here so it’s not really a factor yet.

Yams are full of oestrogen and therefore good for the ladies and perhaps accounts for the peculiar behaviour of those males in areas where the consumption of yams is high. Taro provides testosterone and again may account for the belligerent attitude of the males in areas where it consumed and hirsute ladies in that area.

But even though it perhaps shouldn’t be, we all like our rice it is so easy to prepare and cook and it gives us energy without complications.

No government can allow anyone from anywhere to have a monopoly over food otherwise there will be riots.

There is enough rice on the foreign markets to make sure no one in PNG goes hungry as long as the price is low.

We consume about 200,000 tons of rice every year. World rice costs in 2004 were about K1.25 per kilo and you can ask why we pay K4 in shops and the would-be monopolies are saying prices will increase to more than K11 per kilo. In fact rice prices fell 3 % in 2011.

‘Local’ rice firm owned by international fugitive Djoko Tjadra

January 17, 2012 1 comment

From the PNG Rice blog

Hello Papua New Guinea. Hello Rice Lovers. If there’s a reason to be pissed off about the whole rice saga in the country, the reason is this:-

Naima Agro Industries Limited, the rice company that will grow rice at Bereina Central Province is owned by International fugitive Djoko Tjandra. Tjandra is the owner of Mulia Group, an Indonesian Multi-National Company that owns Naima Industries. Papua New Guineans were misled by our Government to believe that a PNG Citizen Eleana Tjandranegara was the sole owner of Naima Agro Industries.

Naima will recieve a tax holiday from the Government of PNG to get the Bereina rice project underway. What has until now been the only cause of uproar has been a proposed import tariff on all rice in PNG, virtually driving the rest of the rice industry in PNG into the ground as all rice in the country right now is imported. The import tariff will virtually tilt the rice market to Naima’s advantage and has the potential to drive Trukai, EzyCook, Homestate and Goodman Fielder’s Flame rice brands out of production. The set-up will see Naima dominate the rice market.

Naima is owned by the Mulia Group and not Eleana Tjandranegara – Refer to our blog post on this finding.

Mulia Group is owned by Djoko S. Tjandra, wanted by Indonesia and Interpol (The International Police) for tax fraud which cost the state Rp 500 million in financial losses. Refer to to the Jakarta Post article reposted on this blog on the matter

Below is an excerpt from a 2009 Jakarta Post article:

“Joko Soegiarto Tjandra, a fugitive in the Bank Bali corruption case, is suspected to have flown to Singapore from Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, an official at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said Wednesday. According to our information, Joko Tjandra is already in Singapore. However, the AGO is coordinating with the Foreign Ministry to trace Djoko’s whereabouts, deputy attorney general for special crimes Marwan Effendy told Antara state news agency. The AGO has sent a third and final warrant for Joko to surrender himself by Friday afternoon at the very latest. However, Djoko’s lawyer O.C. Kaligis told Antara that he could not guarantee his client would show up at the AGO on Friday.

Joko Tjandra left the country using a chartered flight from Halim Perdanakusumah Airport in Jakarta to Port Moresby on June 10, just one day before the Supreme Court issued a verdict, upon the AGO’s request of review, sentencing Joko and former Bank Indonesia governor Syahril Sabirin to two years’ imprisonment and ordering Joko to pay Rp 546 billion (about US$54 million) as restitution to the state. Unlike Joko, Syahril Sabirin has surrendered himself to the Attorney General’s Office.”

The Falcon Jet Incident which caused a diplomatic tussle between PNG and Indonesia arose when the PNG Government flew Djoko to PNG from Malaysia on board the PNG Government Falcon Jet. This story was uncovered by PNG Blogs.

Follow this link to the PNG Exposed repost of that story.

Below is a screen grab of the Interpol Wanted Persons Listing of Djoko who is still on the run, and who is about to gain full control of our country’s Rice Industry: