With Papua New Guinea’s rapid population growth (around 2.1%), along with increasing migration from rural to peri-urban areas and the expansion of the gas and mining industry, there is rising demand for higher-value food products, particularly in large and expanding urban areas such as Port Moresby. Population changes are also changing food preferences, including greater emphasis on temperate vegetables.
A number of highland regions grow a range of temperate vegetables, but supply to Port Moresby is limited by poor transport infrastructure and inconsistent product quality. The major alluvial valleys in Central Province have better transport infrastructure (the national road network) and a relatively dry season that limits disease pressure. Perennial streams have sufficient flow for irrigation. Central Province could supply the increasing demand for temperate vegetables - if the correct vegetables were selected, appropriate land, soil and water management practices developed, and agronomic strategies to grow quality produce introduced. This project will identify and address vegetable supply chain priorities in Central Province, to equip communities so they can take advantage of this opportunity to enter the temperate vegetable market and thus improve their socioeconomic position in a sustainable manner.
The project was approved during the period of the previous report, and implementation has progressed quite rapidly, especially since June 2010. All deadlines to date for specific activities have been substantially or fully met, and substantial progress has been made on a number that are not due until later in the project. Specifically, Value Chain Analyses have been completed and design of new chains is well advanced, and those aspects that can be implemented at an early stage are in progress eg gaining cooperation and inputs/actions by entrepreneurs. Research priorities for field experimentation have been identified, sites selected, partner activity commenced and the experiments will be planted in May-June 2011. Sociological work - interviews, meetings and workshops as planned have been completed, data analysis is well advanced and reports are being prepared. A number of conference papers have been published or submitted (awaiting acceptance), and training for one project participant is to be undertaken in late 2011. Initial Geographic Information Systems work has been completed.
The project was approved in 2009, and commenced in 2010. Implementation has progressed quite rapidly, though some aspects of field experimentation have been delayed by local conditions, and establishment of improved value chain/s has been compromised by staff unavailability in the Fresh Produce Development Agency. Nevertheless, deadlines for most specific activities for the 2011-12 year have been substantially or fully met. Substantial progress has been made in planning for a number that are not due until later in the project. Field experimentation with a range of crops and agricultural systems was conducted during the dry season (May to October 2011) in the coastal lowlands of Central Province, and continues in the Goilala Plateau (Tapini area) at time of writing. Sociological work - interviews, meetings and workshops as planned have been completed, data analysis is well advanced and reports are being prepared. Proposals for continuing training activity are well advanced. A number of conference papers have been published in National and International Conferences, one journal paper has been co-authored (by Dr Laurie Bonney) and early drafts of additional journal papers have been prepared. Geographic Information Systems work to assess land capability has advanced significantly in the year under review. A mid-project meeting was held in March 2012 to review progress and plan activities for 2012. The project has received a significant amount of media attention in both Australia and PNG and more widely.
The project was approved in 2009, and commenced in 2010. Implementation has progressed quite rapidly, though some aspects of field experimentation have been delayed by local conditions and the elections in 2012. Establishment of improved value chain/s has been compromised by a period of staff unavailability in the Fresh Produce Development Agency and instability in commercial providers of value chain activities. Nevertheless, deadlines for most specific activities for the 2012-13 year have been substantially or fully met. Substantial progress has also been made in planning for a number of activities that are not due until later in the project. Field experimentation with a range of crops and agricultural systems was conducted during the dry season (May to October 2012) in the coastal lowlands of Central Province, and continues in the Goilala Plateau (Tapini area) and Sogeri at time of writing. A prolonged wet season has disrupted plantings on the coastal lowlands, and replanting will be necessary. Sociological work - interviews, meetings and workshops as planned have been completed, data analysis is well advanced and reports have been submitted or are being prepared. Proposals for continuing training activity beyond the project life are being developed - these are expected to be implemented by PNG partners. A number of conference papers have been published in National and International Conferences, one journal paper co-authored (by Dr Laurie Bonney) is in press and another submitted. Early drafts of additional journal papers have been prepared. The mid-project review meeting required as part of the project contract was held in September 2012, the outcome being very positive. The project continues to receive a significant amount of positive media attention in both Australia and PNG.
Vegetables have been an integral part of the diet of populations of modern day Papua New Guinea (PNG) for thousands of years, based around subsistence gardening producing a wide range of edible indigenous plants, and more recently vegetables introduced by Europeans. Urbanisation and change in population demographics offers opportunities for the development of viable commercial vegetable production and marketing enterprises. This project focussed on vegetable production in Central Province of PNG for the rapidly expanding population and therefore market in Port Moresby, the National Capital. The project used (i) Rapid Value Chain Analysis (RVCA) to identify which vegetables provide potential commercial opportunities, and needs for biophysical and socio-economic research, and (ii) Appreciative Inquiry (AI), to provide socio-economic insights, effective community engagement practices and identify training needs.
Biophysical research included land resource assessment, evaluation of cultivars of candidate crops (tomatoes, capsicums, French beans, broccoli, cabbage and carrots), at Laloki and Koiari Park (coastal lowlands near Port Moresby), Sogeri (~400m elevation) and Tapini (~800m elevation), and comparison of traditional, improved and intensive production systems at Laloki and Sogeri. The field work was complemented with a genome and controlled environment study of broccoli adaptation at the University of Tasmania. Value Chain Analysis was also used as a basis of work on developing improved Value Chains supported by demonstrations of production of candidate crops at villages in Rigo-Koiari (lowlands), Sogeri and Tapini. Training in basic crop agronomy, business and banking was carried out for both women and their daughters and men and their sons.
Land resource assessment has provided much improved data on both topographic and soil characteristics and limitations. Soil fertility is highly variable, because of diversity of parent material and intensity of weathering eg the Ferrosols at Sogeri are very low in extractable P.
Substantial differences in both yield and quality, and evidence of edaphic variation eg blossom end rot in tomatoes, and insect damage among cultivars were found. Potentially commercially valuable cultivars were identified for coastal lowlands and Tapini, with less definitive results for Sogeri. The production system trials indicated that traditional and improved systems produced similar results, but the highly intensive was less productive. However, these trials had only short durations, and need to be continued for many years for comprehensive and reliable results.
Socio-economic research was particularly successful with understanding of communities, their function and needs, and the importance of collaborative, team and partnership oriented approaches to introduction of new practices in agricultural production, marketing and value chain function. There were some clear successes in train-the-trainer activities and follow up by them in expanding knowledge to their villages. Interestingly, economic analysis revealed that labour cost, not often considered as part of assessment of crop viability by smallholder producers, is a major cost component in vegetable production. Establishment of improved value chains proved to be difficult, for reasons beyond the control of the project. However, critical issues and points along the value chain were identified and these will provide guidance to future activities designed to meet the needs of producers, consumers and participants along the value chain.
The project also produced a significant number of publications and captured a substantial body of knowledge that has yet to be collated for wider use eg for use in future projects. It also provides a model of engagement with participants in the production of vegetables and their delivery to consumers through improved value chain function, and provided guidance on infrastructure development to support the value chain. This report concludes with a number of recommendations for future research and development partnerships with PNG collaborators.
No activity in 2014-15 apart from planning for the workshop in June 2015.