AusAID-Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Implementing Agency and Partnering Organizations:
Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of Australia's most important development partners, and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research's (ACIAR) program 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, pressure on land and renewable resources as a result of population increases and new pest and disease threats, and poor product quality. Future impacts of population pressure and HIV/AIDS and other human diseases on the farming sector, including effects on labour availability and productivity, will be addressed, and gender issues will be mainstreamed into the program. Recognising the enormous potential of agriculture for sustaining the basic livelihood of the people, the Papua New Guinea Department of Agriculture and Livestock has developed a National Agriculture Development Plan as a blueprint to guide future directions in agriculture and rural development.
Village-based agriculture supports over 70% of the population, and domestic trading of fresh produce is a very important source of cash income. By far the most important crop in PNG is sweetpotato, the dominant staple for over 65% of the rural population. The main export tree commodities are timber, oilpalm, coffee, cocoa and coconuts. Forestry is PNG's third largest revenue earner and a major contributor to economic and social development. PNG has several significant competitive advantages in relation to the production of timber; available land, good soils and climate, and a long history of successful incorporation of trees into agroforestry systems. The PNG fisheries zone of 2.4 million km2 is the largest in the South Pacific. The fisheries zone includes an extended reef system, numerous islands and an extensive coastline. These create huge opportunity but also present an enormous challenge for monitoring and control. The total market value of the PNG catch is estimated at $A140-160 million. Pigs and poultry are important village animals and there are some live exports of cattle from PNG. ACIAR will assist in the development of capacity to detect and manage infectious disease in the wider context of biosecurity arrangements and in collaboration with other Australian agencies. Where relevant, close linkages will be formed between ACIAR-funded programs in PNG and the Pacific island countries, for example in root and tree crops, fisheries and forestry.
AusAID provides $ 2 million annually to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to facilitate research partnerships into key agricultural research areas in PNG such as reducing pest impacts and the management of fruit fly and potato late blight. Since 1998 AusAID has contributed $18.6 million to this program. This program is aimed at increasing farmers’ incomes and strengthening food security.
Key principles in designing and executing the program include the importance of:
* engagement with the private sector, industry bodies and NGOs along with government in both research and implementation of research results
* research that assists the engagement of smallholders in the cash economy
* understanding the social and economic issues affecting farmer decision-making and factors influencing adoption of new technologies.
ACIAR Key Program Managers
Prinicipal Regional Coordinator
Mr Les Baxter
Research Program Managers
Dr Caroline Lemerle
Agricultural Systems Management
Dr Chris Barlow
Dr Russell Haines
Dr Gamini Keerthisinghe
Soil Management and Crop Nutrition
Dr Richard Markham