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Feeding Papua New Guinea: A growing appetite for solutions

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This August, Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s 27th Ministerial Forum was held in Port Moresby.

As part of this, the governments released a joint communique, part of which announced that the Australia-PNG relationship will be based on “strong democracies for a stable future; close friends, enduring ties; an economic partnership for prosperity; strategic cooperation for security and stability; social and human development; and near neighbours, global partners”.

Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of a major issue confronting PNG – its rapidly growing population.

The total population of PNG has been growing at an average rate of around 2.5 per cent per year since 1966. While 7 million people now, at this rate it will almost double every 30 years.

It is important to note however that – since the 2011 census was deemed a failure by then Prime Minister of PNG Peter O’Neill – this remains a disputed estimate.

Rapid population growth alone can seriously inhibit progress in a developing country. Services like education and health must expand just as rapidly as the population in order to keep up, making improvement in real terms difficult to achieve.

For PNG, population growth has a specific impact on food production and how it is associated with environmental change. Without serious change, rapid population growth ultimately may threaten long term food security for many rural people.


© Asian Correspondent