Overview Objectives

The project is developing sustainable practices to improve the yield, quality and economic viability of peanut production in PNG and Australia. This will be achieved by gathering information on peanut production, storage, use, marketing and aflatoxin contamination in PNG, and by developing economics management software for the Australian peanut industry. ICRISAT will participate in the project’s activities in PNG.

Project Background and Objectives

Peanut production used to be an important industry in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Production for commercial processing and for export has declined since the late 1980s with the lack of high-yielding varieties, seed supply and cost-effective practices suited to local farming systems all factors. Aflatoxin, a potential health problem, is another as consumption of raw peanuts is common. There is little information on the incidence and extent of contamination of peanuts with aflatoxin in PNG, but studies from similar environments in Indonesia suggest that aflatoxin is likely to be a major problem.

Australia also has some common issues such as drought and aflatoxin contamination - although the peanut industry is more developed than PNG. Australian peanut growers have expressed a need for an economic support package that could help them to make critical decisions about farm management and financial planning. The modelling systems available focus on crop production risks and do not currently incorporate whole farm economic risks. In India, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has a peanut breeding program to produce high-yielding varieties with desirable characteristics, such as large kernel size and tolerance to foliar diseases, for use in developing countries.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

An initial coordination and methodology workshop was held at Lae, PNG from 21 to 23 Aug 2002, in which project collaborators from PNG public and private institutions, QDPI and ACIAR have participated. The workshop resulted in a technical work plan for the 02-03 season in PNG.
As a part of this project, 35 peanut lines have been imported from ICRISAT, India into PNG and Australia for further evaluation.
The following progress was attained during 2002-03:
Under Objective 1 the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) conducted a survey of peanut farmers during March-May 2003, in four provinces representing the major peanut growing regions in PNG. A total of about 410 farmers were contacted during the surveys in the four provinces.
The survey showed that although peanut was considered less important as a food crop, it ranked amongst the top five crops generating income for the family and was reported as the top ranking cash crop by 43.8% of respondents. The fact that peanuts are much more widely grown and marketed in PNG than at first considered is testimony to the role this crop plays in the farming system and rural and peri-urban economies. Overwhelmingly, the women in all regions were much more heavily involved in peanut cultivation and marketing. Most farmers harvested multiple crops per year and sold peanuts in the urban and local markets or on main roadsides.
Peanuts are sold in various ways to suit consumer preference, including fresh on bunch, fresh loose, boiled on bunch, boiled loose, roasted on bunch, roasted loose, dried loose, dried in bags, fried and salted, etc. There was very little evidence of agriculture extension agencies participation in peanut production and utilisation in all regions except Eastern Highlands Province, where 25% of the farmers had DPI officers visiting them occasionally. All farmers were unaware of aflatoxin in peanut and it was their first time to be informed of health problems associated with aflatoxin. Given the important role that women play in peanut production and marketing it appears that they are a key target group in any future efforts to develop and extend improved agronomic and post-harvest handling practices. It was observed that in all survey areas, women were both keenly aware and very vocal about their role in peanut production, as opposed to some of the other more traditional crops. The project installed a Mini-column facility to analyse aflatoxin in peanuts and train a laboratory technician at the NARI Chemistry Lab. The facility is now fully capable of providing the aflatoxin testing using the rapid and low cost Mini-column method.
The highlights of the aflatoxin survey are the very high levels of aflatoxin contamination (up to 300 ppb) found in 17% of market samples from National Capital District (NCD). The fact that there were multiple samples with high levels of aflatoxin contamination was a serious concern. The survey results indicated a need for further work on the aflatoxin survey to identify the sources and causes of contamination. Under Objective 2 researchers are using a crop-modelling approach and field experiments to develop and implement improved varietal and management approaches for economically sustainable peanut production. The Australian developed APSIM Peanut model was used to examine effects of various crop management factors such as variety, time of planting on yields and aflatoxin risk. However, the scenarios could only be conducted for Ramu Sugar and Aiyura (but with very limited data) sites due to limitation on weather data. The scenario analysis has clearly demonstrated the merit of using a model as a tool to address a number of crop management issues as a first step before embarking on expensive field experiments. The tool also provided a way to add value to the existing weather databases in assessing potential for peanut production and associated risks in various regions. However, availability of long-term daily weather data remains a problem for a number of peanut growing regions.
Varietal trials conducted at Aiyura, Keravat and Ramu Sugar showed that some of the new introductions (from ICRISAT) have out yielded local checks by 2-3 times at all locations, which generated great interest among researchers and farmers.
Under Objective 3 researchers are developing a farm economic management software package to provide the Australian Peanut Industry with improved capacity to explore economic consequences associated with production and resource management risk in peanut farming systems. The project has been fortunate to access the services of Fred Chudleigh (agricultural economist, 20%) and Dr Yash Chauhan (crop modeller, 30%) to accomplish the task of developing the decision-support package to assess potential opportunities and economic risks associated with sustainability of irrigated and dryland peanut farming systems in Queensland. The project team held discussions with peanut farmers, industry consultants and researchers to define specific decision-support needs of the irrigated and dryland peanut industry. These needs have been prioritised and currently a decision-support tool at the whole farm level is being developed for rainfed peanut farming systems. A prototype decision-support system was scheduled for testing by the end of 2003.

The first annual review meeting of the project was held during 5-7 Aug, 2003 at NARI Aiyura, in which a total of 15 collaborating scientists from NARI, Trukai and Ramu Sugar and QDPI&F agencies and local progressive farmers were participated. The meeting enabled project team to discuss results of trials conduced during year 1 and develop technical work plan for year 2 of the project. The minutes of the review meeting are appended as appendix 1.

Obj.1 To generate information on peanut production, post-harvest storage, utilisation, marketing systems and extent of aflatoxin contamination in the major peanut production regions of PNG.

The survey report has been further improved by including information on (a) post harvest, storage and (b) seasonal changes in prices at major retail markets. The survey has shown that market price of peanuts can vary widely between markets and across time at a market. For example, market price of dry pods during the year ranged between PGK 2-4 per kg at Lae market, 3-5 Kina/kg at Mt Hagen and PGK 6-10/kg at Gordens (Port Moresby).
The survey also revealed that there was total lack of awareness regarding aflatoxin contamination in peanuts and it’s impact on human health. Following the recommendation from the annual review, aflatoxin survey was conducted to examine seasonal trends in aflatoxin levels across major peanut markets. It was interesting to note that the pod samples drawn during the month of April from all major markets (Lae, Goroka, Markham and East New Britain) contained high levels of aflatoxin, with dry pods containing higher levels (37-280ppb) compared to fresh peanuts (10-53ppb). It was not clear whether the high levels of aflatoxin were due to on-farm contamination or build up of aflatoxin in storage.
An executive summary of the survey report has been prepared for publication as Technical Bulletin by NARI. It is expected this publication will be available for circulation during the project’s review meeting in October 2004.

Obj 2. To use a crop-modelling approach and field experiments to develop and implement improved varietal and management approaches for economically sustainable peanut production.

During 2003-04, varietal trials were repeated at Aiyura, Keravat Clear water and Ramu Sugar sites. These trials have resulted in identification of some promising peanut varieties with potential to yield 50-100% greater than the local check varieties. As expected, the multi-location analysis based on 2-year data has shown a large genotype x environment interactions due to significant variations in seasonal climatic conditions between the regions. This analysis implied that (a) the varietal releases will have to be specific to each region and (b) if seeds of these improved varieties have to reach small holders in all regions, then seed multiplication program(s) should be set up in such a way to cater for the seed demands of different varieties in the various regions. The varietal trials will be repeated during 2004-05 season to reconfirm the genotypic performance and identify promising lines for release in various regions.
During year 2, field trials were also conducted at Aiyura and Keravat to study the effects of seed dressing, plant density on yield. Seed storage trials and fertility trials are underway at Aiyura and Bubia..

There has been limited progress with using of APSIM-peanut model for generating yield scenarios for various peanut-growing regions in PNG, with the main limitation being availability of daily met data for the target regions. The model validation could only be conducted for Ramu Sugar (using crop yield and climate data). The limited work done so far has clearly demonstrated the use of APSIM peanut model as a tool to address a number of crop management issues as a first step before embarking on expensive field experiments. The tool also provided a way to add value to the existing weather databases in assessing potential for peanut production and associated risks in various regions. However, accessing long-term daily weather data continues to be a major constraint for using modelling approaches to peanut growing regions in PNG.

Obj 3. To develop a farm economic management software package to provide the Australian Peanut Industry with improved capacity to explore economic consequences associated with production and resource management risk in peanut farming systems.

At QDPI&F, the focus has been to develop a soft ware tool that include a database of costs associated with the peanut industry, can be parameterised with the financial and production characteristics of many typical peanut farming businesses and can be linked to simulated yields for peanuts cropping systems. A prototype of the economic modelling software package “Smartpeanut” is currently in the first stage testing and evaluation by peanut industry participants. The package consists of 42 separate spreadsheets and 7 documents dealing with many aspects of farm management decisions. More documents and spreadsheets will be added over the next twelve months as case studies of peanut production systems are completed.

Monitoring visits
During Feb 04, three visits by Drs Rao CN Rachaputi (QDPI&F) and Hari Upadhyaya (ICRISAT) and Greg Mills (QDPI&F) were undertaken to monitor the project activities in PNG. (trip reports are attached).

As a part of the peanut project training activity, two training visits have been organised for Humphrey Saese (Trukai Farms) and Johnny Wemin (NARI) during 28 Feb to 8 March 04, at Kingaroy. The PNG scientists have had an opportunity to gain hands-on training with peanut crop management and monitoring aspects. Unfortunately, the proposed visit of Luke Nama (Keravat, NARI) could not materialise due to passport problems.

Objective 1. To generate information on peanut production, post-harvest storage, utilisation, marketing systems and extent of aflatoxin contamination in the major peanut production regions of PNG.
The report of the peanut farmer survey conducted in four major peanut growing regions (Morobe, EHP, ENB and NCD) has been published by NARI. The aflatoxin survey data base has been updated to include results from Jan/Feb samplings. A total of 274 samples were analysed until Jan 05. The distribution of aflatoxin contamination (of samples with aflatoxin levels >10 ppb) were in the order of 9%, 27%, 15% and 9% in EHP, ENB, Morobe and NCD regions respectively, with a trend for higher frequency and concentration in roasted samples followed by dry samples. Unfortunately, the March and June samplings were lost in a recent fire at the NARI Chem lab and hence data is not available for these sampling periods. A comprehensive aflatoxin survey report is under preparation.

Objective 2. To use a crop-modelling approach and field experiments to develop and implement improved varietal and management approaches for economically sustainable peanut production.
The short and medium duration varietal trials conducted at Aiyura, Bubia and Clear Water sites during the 2005 season were successfully completed. Promising varieties with significant yield advantage over local checks were identified (report under preparation).
Storage trials conducted at Aiyura and Clear Water showed that the local practice of storing peanut above fireplaces resulted in a sharp decline in seed viability within 3 months suggesting a need for development of appropriate storage practices to maintain seed viability. Fertilizer trials conducted at Ramu Sugar showed that basal application of lime at 100kg/ha resulted in 48% increase in yields.
The long term climate databases of Aiyura and Bubia were accessed and updated. APSIM peanut model in conjunction with the long term climate data bases were used for predicting yield and aflatoxin scenarios for Aiyura and Bubia regions. Empirical models were developed to generate solar radiation data (which generally not available for PNG environments) from other climate variables such as evaporation and temperature.
Objective 3. To develop a farm economic management software package to provide the Australian Peanut Industry with improved capacity to explore economic consequences associated with production and resource management risk in peanut farming systems.

The development of economic modelling software package “smartpeanut” has been completed. The “Smartpeanut”, a software package with a suite of farm economic modelling tools has been demonstrated and the CD released to Australian peanut industry stake holders at a workshop held on 29 July 05 at Kingaroy Qld. About 24 participants representing peanut growers, agronomists and industry professionals from the Burnett, Bundaberg and the Atherton Tableland have attended a one-day workshop for the launch of pre-release version of the new SMART PEANUT economic modelling package in Kingaroy.

Yanding Tomda and Timothy Geob of NARI, Aiyura have undergone a 2 week training during 4-20th April 05, at DPIF Kingaroy, Qld. The training focussed on peanut experimental techniques,data base management and interpreting APSIM peanut model outputs (Trip report by Mr Tomda and Geob is attached as appendix 2)
Monitoring visits
DPIF officers RCN Rachaputi, Graeme Wright and Greg Mills travelled to PNG to participate in the project review meetings and monitoring of field trials (Trip reports are attached as appendices 3,4 and 5).
Review meeting
The project was reviewed by an external review team during 12-13th October 2004, with one of the major recommendations being the development of a new follow-on project focusing on the supply and extension of the new varietal and management technologies to smallholders through farmer-participatory on-farm research in PNG, as well as the development and application of novel remote sensing technologies to monitor and manage spatial variability in peanut crops in PNG and Australia. As a part of ACIAR’s review panel recommendations of the External Review Report (see attached appendix 1), ACIAR has approved two variations including a 6 month extension (up to Dec 2005) to the project.

Progress in the variation and extension phase

Seedmultiplication of selected peanut varieties has been initiated at Ramu Sugar. In the second cycle of multiplication, 23 shortduration varieties were planted in June 05. It is expected that the seed material of promising varieties being multiplied at Ramu Sugar will directly feed into farmer participatory “seed village” trials to be initiated at selected sites environments in the new project.
Pest Survey
The project has been fortunate to acquire services of Dr John Wightman, Entomologist to conduct a pest and disease survey on peanut crops in Morobe and EHP regions.
The survey data showed the following insects to be important constraints to peanut production: aphids, jassids, pod boring earwigs and wireworms, white grubs (Lepidiota spp), and grasshoppers. Spiders were the most abundant predators. The peanut mild mottle virus was common and may be associated with jassid pests. Early leaf spot, late leaf spot and rust were also encountered in most sites visited. Verticillium root and stem rot was severe in Eastern Highlands and Kesowai (Madang). Bacterial wilt was suspected in a number of samples but this could not be confirmed. What was observed and appear to be widespread was the nutritional deficiency symptoms/ disorders in the crops resulting from continuous cultivation of peanut crops. If these deficiencies are addressed then the crops grown would better resist pests and diseases. The survey was completed during April 05 and the report is attached as appendix 6).

Ground Truthing of Satellite Imagery
GPS units have been purchased and sent to for PNG collaborators at NARI and Ramu Sugar. Training in the use of these units to mark exact lat/long locations for target crops for future ‘ground-truthing’ of peanut crops for analysis of satellite imagery captured in PNG was carried out during the Feb-March 2005 visit by RCN Rachaputi and G. Wright, as well as during training visits by Yanding Tomda and Tim Geobb in April ‘05. Details of this training are reported in Trip Reports (see Appendices 2 and 4).

A network floating license for the ENVI image analysis software has been purchased for the Australian program and is now operational at Kingaroy. A similar floating license system for this software has also been explored for PNG, such that NARI and RS could jointly access a single, floating license (via a web based license checker program) and hence reduce the costs of purchase. Problems with the trial have however occurred so it is likely that we will end up purchasing separate ‘stand-alone’ licenses for NARI and RS in the next few weeks. Training of NARI and RS staff in the use of the ENVI software will begin at the October review meeting.

Two DigiGlobe high resolution, multi-spectral satellite images of peanut cropping regions in the Upper Makham Valley of PNG and Wooroolin area of the S. Burnett region of Qld were acquired during June and February, respectively (see Figures 1 and 5 in Appendix 7). In PNG, during the past few months a number of peanut crops have been identified and GPS locations recorded, and compared remotely sensed crop vigour (as a Normalised Differential Vegetation Index , NDVI) derived from the multi-spectral satellite image. Subsequent processing of this imagery has indicated that there is good potential to apply this technology for peanut crop monitoring in PNG for potential production forecasting. Figures 3 and 4 in Appendix 7 shows that peanut canopies in the Markham Valley have very high infra-red reflectance (and hence high NDVI values) compared to surrounding vegetation, and can potentially be classified on a regional basis for production estimates (ie calculation of area, and ultimately yield prediction).

In the Wooroolin scene, a number of crops were remotely sensed from the satellite imagery and this information used to assist peanut growers in a range if harvesting management decisions during the season. Figure 6 in Appendix 7 shows one example, where a change detection technique using the ENVI software was used to assess crop spatial variability in severe drought and late season disease attack. Specific regions of the crop has become highly affected by the verticillium wilt disease (dark area in the change detection figure) and were potentially had a lot higher risk of afaltoxin contamination. Based on this processed imagery, the grower decided to segregate his harvest into two major areas - one with severe disease incidence and the other with little change. The final outcome was that the area with minimal change (and hence lower drought and disease incidence) had negative afaltoxin, while the high change area had severe afaltoxin contamination. This decision meant the grower received a lot higher return (ie lower afaltoxin penalties) than if he had harvested the entire crop as one lot. This example provides evidence that this technology can offer commercial benefits to peanut growers.

Project Outcomes

A peanut farmer survey conducted in four major peanut-growing regions, i.e. Eastern Highlands Province (Highlands), Markham Valley (Dry Lowlands), National Capital District (NCD-Dry Lowlands and Peri-Urban) and East New Britain Province (Wet Lowlands), assessed the status of peanut production, postharvest storage, utilisation, marketing systems and the extent of aflatoxin contamination. It revealed that peanuts play a significant role in increasing individual household incomes, thus contributing to living standards of the farming communities.

Peanut ranked amongst the top five income-generating crops across all the survey regions. It is estimated that about 60 percent of PNG farming families or households in the surveyed areas grew peanuts over an estimated land area of 14,000 hectares. The production estimate of 12,600 tonnes earned a gross income of around 30 million kina.

As part of the survey, a total of 274 peanut samples were collected from four major road side markets in the surveyed regions and analysed for aflatoxin content. Aflatoxin contamination was found in all the four markets with the percentage of positive samples being 22% in the Morobe Province, 35% in the East New Britain Province, 16% in NCD and 12% in the Eastern Highlands Province. Although >80% of samples recorded less than 20 ppb, 5% of the samples contained unacceptable levels of aflatoxin (up to 1000 ppb). Higher levels of contamination were often present in the roasted and dry pod samples. Combining results of the aflatoxin survey with the APSIM modelling work conducted in the project enabled the project team to draw some conclusions and make recommendations for future work related to aflatoxin minimisation in PNG.

A total of 47 improved lines of peanuts, consisting of short- and medium-duration varieties with foliar disease resistance and large kernel characteristics, were introduced from ICRISAT, India in 2002. The field trials resulted in identification of promising varieties with significant yield advantage over local checks. However, a large genotype x environment interaction observed in the trials meant that the varietal releases may have to be specific to each region. The selected varieties are being further evaluated on farmers fields to asses their local adaptation before releasing for general cultivation.
The APSIM peanut model was validated using the yield data from field trials and daily climate records of Aiyura, Bubia and Ramu Sugar sites. The model predicted pod yield satisfactorily for Bubia and Ramu Sugar sites but poorly for Aiyura site, due to unknown site-specific constraints. The analysis also suggested peanut crops sown between April and June at Ramu Sugar are more likely to experience dry weather, consequently, low yields and increased risk of pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination.

The project developed a ‘beta’ version of the economic modelling software package ‘SmartPeanut’, which is a suite of software tools that combines an economic framework and crop simulation models to analyse farming systems as an investment. Applications of ‘SmartPeanut’ include comparing economic risks and opportunities of various crop rotations, investments on new farm machinery, options to improve economic viability of the enterprise in relation to resources such as farm size, leasing versus owning land/machinery etc. SmartPeanut’ will also be useful for researchers and consultants in studying the impact of climate and agronomic practices on farm sustainability and profits.

Project ID
Project Country
Commissioned Organisation
Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Australia
Project Leader
Dr Rao C N Rachaputi
07 4160 0737
07 4162 3238
Collaborating Institutions
Trukai Industries, Papua New Guinea
National Agricultural Research Institute, Papua New Guinea
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid Tropics, India
Ramu Sugar Ltd, Papua New Guinea
Project Budget
Start Date
Finish Date
Extension Start Date
Extension Finish Date
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Ken Menz
Related Country