Papua New Guinea: Drought and frost resistant crop seeds to be distributed in El Niño affected areas

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Papua New Guinea - government

The Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O'Neill CMG MP, has announced that seedlings for hybrid drought resistant crops that can better cope with El Niño conditions will be distributed through drought and frost affected areas of the country.

PM O'Neill said the Government, working in co-operation with the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), will see the dispersal of seeds for growing in districts as part of the medium to long-term Government response strategy to ongoing drought and frost risk.

"I am encouraging Members of Parliament in drought and frost affected areas to work with NARI to obtain seeds that can be grown in your districts," the Prime Minister said.

"The seeds that will be provided by NARI are plant types that have been developed for growth in areas affected by El Niño weather extremes.

"These are crops like taro, sweet potato, kaukau and yam that will survive harsher than normal drought conditions, as well as vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage that can sustain colder temperatures from frost.

"We must use every tool at our disposal to deal with this threat from El Niño.

"As part of this approach we are using modern science to see this current disaster through and to prepare for future extreme weather.

"Members should use their DSIP fund allocations to support the purchase of seeds and other relief activities in their districts.

"The role of a local leader is crucial at times of disaster severe conditions.

"I congratulate the Members who have stepped up and shown local leadership."

The Prime Minister said the distribution of the seeds will be to areas that have been identified as disaster categories 4 and 5, and take place alongside ongoing drought relief activities.

"We will continue with the distribution of food and other relief supplies where this is needed and for long as this is needed.

"We are prepared for the situation to worsen before conditions improve.

"While there has been recent rain and the chance of more to come, people should not relax and think the drought is over.

"Further programs are underway to improve the carriage of water in drought affected areas, for irrigation as well as for drinking and sanitation.

"Our Government has response strategies in place for worst case scenarios and these will remain in place until after the threat has passed.

"With climate change we can expect future El Niños to occur, possibly as often as two every five to ten years, along with other extreme weather.

"While we experience this El Niño, the reality is that we must also prepare for the next.

"This includes the construction of better water reservoirs, water transport systems and seed banks of drought resistant crops."

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