With the focus on major resources projects, Papua New Guinea is missing the opportunity to develop a thriving agri-tourism sector, Papua New Guinea Women in Agricultural Development Foundation (PNGWiADF) President, Maria Linibi tells Business Advantage PNG.
As it stands, many people in the sector in Papua New Guinea think agriculture is limited to growing and selling crops, but Linibi says the industry has potential beyond traditional farming.
‘There is a big gap in the market for the promotion of traditional crops and farming methods to tourists.
‘The memorandum of understanding is a step towards an effective agri-tourism sector.’
‘The agricultural sector must broaden their thinking and embrace the opportunity to work with the tourism sector, which will benefit both industries, the economy and the local community,’ Linibi says.
In October 2017, PNGWiADF and a number of local agricultural organisations signed a memorandum of understanding at the Pacific Week of Agriculture in Vanuatu to strengthen cooperation between the two sectors.
Linibi describes the memorandum of understanding as ‘a step towards an effective agri-tourism sector’.
‘When people travel they want a unique, local experience.’
She says the agreement recognises the importance of the agricultural and tourism sectors working together and outlines a way forward for a partnership.
A successful agricultural-tourism sector will be a great benefit for the economy, ‘with potential for farmers to sell fresh produce directly to major cruise ships, hotels and restaurants’, she adds.
‘Tourists will have the opportunity to visit local farms and to taste traditional recipes. The tourism sector is likely to boom.
‘When people travel they want a unique, local experience, and we can offer this through the development of a strong agri-tourism business.
‘Tourists will want to spend money to come to Papua New Guinea if they can experience locals preparing food using indigenous crops.’
While the memorandum of understanding is a move in the right direction, Linibi believes the lack of communication between both sectors and the government remains a concern.
‘With more cruise ships coming to Papua New Guinea’s shores each year, there is great potential.’
‘We need the agricultural and tourism sectors to come together to talk about the opportunities and for the government to support this discussion.’
Limited funding and government support for initiatives is another concern, and Linibi says she would like to see the government providing financial support for the right projects.
‘With more cruise ships coming to Papua New Guinea’s shores each year, there is great potential to develop a booming agricultural-tourism sector that will attract a growing number of tourists.
Linibi says tourism is a ‘second priority’ in PNG. But with tourism growing, as the country becomes more accessible, the agri-tourism sector has the potential to thrive.
‘There is a great demand for agricultural-tourism in Papua New Guinea and it will be a missed opportunity if we don’t work together to build the industry.’