Papua New Guinea (PNG) is Australia’s closest neighbour. Despite positive economic growth rates in recent years, PNG’s social indicators are among the worst in the Asia– Pacific region. The majority of PNG’s mainly rural population are poor and an estimated 18% are extremely poor. Improving the lives of poor people and promoting stability in PNG are central to Australia’s interests.
The Australian Government’s development strategy for PNG is to assist the PNG Government to 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–DFAT research partnership, in which Australian Aid 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 PNG program recognises the many challenges to agricultural development in the country, 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 on labour availability, health and productivity, are taken into account. Gender issues are integrated into the program.
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).