Papua New Guinea
The Australian Government development strategy for Papua New Guinea (PNG) is to assist the PNG Government to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), reduce poverty and promote sustainable economic development, as expressed in the PNG Government’s Medium Term Development Plan 2011–2015. Australian assistance aims to complement, not substitute for, PNG’s own investment in priority areas. A key component of Australia’s involvement with the agricultural sector in PNG is the ACIAR–AusAID research partnership, in which AusAID co-invests in ACIAR-managed activities.
PNG is one of Australia’s most important development partners, and ACIAR’s investment in PNG reflects this. ACIAR’s program recognises the many challenges to agricultural development in PNG, including poorly developed infrastructure, weak market signals and services, new pest and disease threats, poor product quality, and pressure on land and renewable resources as a result of population increases and mining development. Future effects of HIV/AIDS and other human diseases on the agriculture sector, including the impact on labour availability, health and productivity, are taken into account, and gender issues are mainstreamed into the program.
Rural smallholders make up the bulk of the population and the bulk of the poor in PNG. ACIAR’s research in PNG aims to help secure improvements in food supply, food access and rural incomes for smallholders through increased productivity and enhanced access to markets and services. This is in line with the PNG Government’s Medium Term Development Plan to promote economic growth in the rural sector (comprising agriculture, forestry and fisheries). The ACIAR program is based on, and committed to, improved adoption of innovations that respond to real needs and deliver meaningful benefits to PNG.
ACIAR ensures that the research is economically, culturally, socially and environmentally relevant to the smallholder farmers. In particular, ACIAR research in PNG has a focus on the role of women in agriculture from a variety of perspectives; for example, marketing access and constraints to uptake of new technologies. There are emphases on plantation crops, root and other horticultural crops, forestry and fisheries. These include exported and domestically traded commodities that generate smallholder income and underpin improved food security and economic development.
Key principles in designing and executing the program include the importance of:
- engagement with the private sector, industry bodies and non-government organisations (NGOs) in partnership with government in both undertaking research and implementing research results
- research that assists the engagement of smallholder farmers and landowners in the cash economy
- understanding the social, cultural and economic issues affecting farmer decision-making and management of risk, and factors influencing adoption of new technologies
- where relevant, close linkages among ACIAR-funded programs in PNG and the Pacific island countries.
ACIAR has a formal program of consultation with PNG to establish priorities in research collaboration, as well as annual smaller consultations and industry workshops to finetune these priorities. A record of the most recent set of formal consultations, held during March–October 2011, is provided on the ACIAR website.
Training priorities are addressed mainly through targeted activities within projects, although support for postgraduate degrees in Australia and in-country scholarships is also a significant contributor to capacity development.
Key areas identified as research priorities across the medium term include:
- Overcoming social, cultural and policy constraints to the impact from agricultural technologies
- Interventions to improve smallholder household profitability/productivity by understanding cross-cutting social, economic and cultural constraints to effective utilisation of agricultural technologies
- Analysis of income utilisation, microfinance access, current production and marketing systems impacting on smallholder families, particularly with respect to the equity, role and effectiveness of women
- Enhancement of smallholder income from vegetables and starchy staples
- Matching of supply to demand, and marketing of highland and lowland vegetables and starchy staples
- Development of integrated management practices for increasing productivity while sustaining the resource base in cropping systems based on vegetables and starchy staples
- Identification and development of opportunities and strategies for crop diversification to improve the livelihoods of communities, especially women
- Improving smallholder returns from cocoa, coffee, coconut and oil palm crop production and marketing
- Social and economic analysis of incentives for uptake of intensified management systems in cocoa, coffee, coconut and oil palm
- Development and smallholder implementation of integrated and sustainable management systems for cocoa, coffee, coconut and oil palm
- Enhanced livelihoods from smallholder forestry
- Enhanced economic returns from agroforestry and plantation systems, and the development of value-added markets for non-timber forest products
- Scaling up of community engagement in tree growing and sustainable forest management
- Improved value chains and efficiency of small- to medium-size value-adding wood-processing enterprises
- Enhanced livelihoods from smallholder fisheries and aquaculture
- Evaluation and development of livelihood opportunities in small-scale inland aquaculture, mariculture, and recreational and commercial fisheries
- Sustainable management of fisheries resources
- Poverty reduction and enhanced smallholder income through diversification and income generation
- Increasing household resilience and income sources through mixed farming systems
- Reducing input costs, increasing production and yield, and linking farmers to markets for alternative crop and livestock enterprises
- Developing potential indigenous species
- Ensuring sustainability and resilience of production systems
- Adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change
- Reversing declining soil fertility across PNG
- Management of invasive and economically damaging species in agriculture and fisheries to reduce economic losses, limit geographic spread and reduce trans-boundary movement
- Developing indigenous genetic resources.