We are delighted to welcome Ivan Pomaleu as Executive Director of Grow PNG, Grow Asia’s newly launched Country Partnership for Papua New Guinea. The partnership will bring together business leaders, policy makers and farmers to accelerate agriculture development in PNG.
In this Q&A, Ivan tells us more about his expertise, passion areas and his vision for transforming Papua New Guinea’s agriculture industry through multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Welcome to the Grow Asia network, Ivan. Can you tell us about yourself and your experience?
I am taking my first steps away from Government. My most recent assignment was as Chair of the APEC Senior Officials when Papua New Guinea hosted APEC in 2018. I led the investment promotion agency for a long time, and prior to that, I was involved in government planning and budgeting with long and varied backgrounds in the renewable resources sector. I have served the government of Papua New Guinea for over 28 years, and hopefully the vast networks that I have established could come in handy in the work that Grow PNG must do.
What are your priorities for the first 100 days as Grow PNG Executive Director?
Obviously, there are important administrative details to conclude, including the establishment of the office. For me it is important to begin my education into the agriculture sector, and to ensure that I appreciate the different challenges that exist there.
I will also establish engagements with agribusinesses and being setting up the first working group, which is likely to address land access. This entails engaging all stakeholders including civil society and deciding the first round of meetings and engagements. It also includes hosting learning events, which are critical to establish our credibility upfront.
What changes would you like to see in PNG’s agriculture sector in five years’ time?
Grow PNG is going to be focused on the Markham Valley Agriculture Corridor, a part of Papua New Guinea that has always been tagged as the potential food bowl of the country. It is my hope that the focus Grow PNG will bring to this region will help realize that potential. This can happen if the platform of partnerships between different and varied players within this space is clearly understood and efforts coordinated. This is where I think Grow PNG can add value to this space.
The other outcome I see in five years’ time is a situation whether the issues that are important and driven by stakeholders and the market are taken up in a coordinated way and are properly resourced and implemented. We want to ensure that the Markham Valley flourishes and continues to support the majority of PNG’s population.
What excites you most about joining Grow PNG and the Grow Asia network?
I have joined Grow PNG at an opportune time. Our country seeks to change the agriculture narrative so that it allows more focus on the important issues and challenges of the times.
When I first began to learn about Grow PNG and particularly Grow Asia I was struck by the enormous relevance this model has in dealing with a lot of issues we have that has hindered the growth of the sector and stalled the growth of opportunities for growers and stakeholders generally.
If we can deal with our domestic issues and leverage the Grow Asia Network, we could draw more investments into key infrastructure, support general business development and encourage more stakeholders to become interested in the sector.
This will be an enormous bonus – we intend to make sure that agriculture regains prominence as an important sector for the growth of Papua New Guinea.