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Australian potatoes temporarily back on the menu in drought-stricken Papua New Guinea

The El Nino-driven drought in Papua New Guinea affects the food supply of about 2 million people. Papua New Guinea is experiencing its worst drought since the devastating 1997 crisis that caused food shortages, disease and loss of life (Courtesy: Oxfam New Zealand)

February 15, 2016
Australian vegetable grower body AUSVEG has applauded the decision of the Papua New Guinean Government to temporarily lift the ban on the import of selected Australian fruits and vegetables for three months.

In August last year, the Papua New Guinea National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) prohibited the importation of many levied vegetables including potatoes, cabbage, carrots, capsicums, pumpkin, peas, zucchini, eggplant, Chinese cabbage, French beans, lettuce and celery.

Michael Coote, AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development:

“We are happy to see the Papua New Guinean Government relax the import ban of selected fruits and vegetables, even if it is temporary,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Export Development, Michael Coote.

“While Papua New Guinea is not the biggest export market for Australian vegetable growers, it was worth $3.8 million to the industry in 2014-15 and is an important trading relationship in the region.”

“Australian vegetables had been exported to PNG without major issue for a number of years prior to the ban, and command a premium price in the retail sector and expatriate-staffed industries such as mining settlements.”

“The loss of any export market increases pressure on Australian growers due to the difficult conditions in the domestic industry. We hope that common sense prevails in this situation and the ban is reversed permanently following the three-month period.”