Roger Gillbanks started with the agricultural company Harrisons and Crossfield in 1955, and became the second general manager for New Britain Palm Oil Ltd, which was initially co-owned by H & C and the Papua New Guinea Government through to the start of the 1990s.
Condolence from Papua New Guinea (Institute of National Affairs) to Late Roger Gillbanks and His Immediate Family in Australia.
Roger Gillbanks, MBE, passed away suddenly at his home in Perth on 29th June 2022 at the age of 87. Roger was a major driving force in the agriculture sector in Papua New Guinea over several decades, particularly in the oil palm and cocoa industries, but also in coffee, sugar and copra.
He started with the agricultural company Harrisons and Crossfield in 1955, and became the second general manager for New Britain Palm Oil Ltd, which was initially co-owned by H & C and the Papua New Guinea Government through to the start of the 1990s.
During that time he authored a key text book on oil palm production. H & C was also engaged in coffee production in the Western Highlands (now Jiwaka) province. During this period he was a major driver for the establishment of the Coffee Research Institute to improve coffee output and disease resistence.
He saw new horizons in Papua New Guinea, left NBPOL, and then set up a new company, New Guinea Plantations, which acquired the former Burns Philp cocoa and coconut estates across the New Guinea Islands.
The company was severely impacted, however, by both the Bougainville crisis, removing their major estates from operations, and the Rabaul volcano that impacted some estates in ENBP, but also their head office in the town.
During this period, Roger was a power behind the establishment of the Rural Industries Council as a voice for the agricultural industries, and set up the firm Kina Securities with Rory Allen, and working with late Margaret Nakikus; the firm has subsequently grown and diversified to include Banking.
Although partially retired from 1998 till 2014, he maintained active involvement in agriculture and some related industries both in Papua New Guinea and SE Asia.
Despite the challenges that he and some of his projects faced over his time in Papua New Guinea, the agriculture sector owes a great debt to his commitment to the sector in this country over the decades, and to his energy and knowledge.
Many agricultural and other professionals in the country will recognise the contribution he made to their careers and the sector, including through their scholarships provided to venues such as the University of Technology and other institutions, as well as employment in different businesses.
RIP to late Roger Gillbanks from your friends and colleagues here in Papua New Guinea, and condolences to his wife and family.