Family Farming Knowledge Platform

  Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has abundance in natural resources both renewable and non-renewable. Land is a valuable asset to the local people with ninety-seven percent of the total landmass being customary owned. Yet, only 27 percent is inhabited, while the rest is geographically challenging with mountainous rugged terrains in the highlands, swampy savannah plains in the lowlands, and small islands and atolls that cluster around the mainland. As a result, only a proportion of 117,858km2 of land area is cultivated for agricultural production.  Over 85 percent of the total population live in rural villages with an average of 5.1 person per household. The livelihood of these families are heavily reliant on subsistence farming of agricultural crop, livestock (include apiculture), fisheries and forestry. Subsistence food production is the source of 83 percent of food energy and 76 percent of protein in PNG.

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Subsistence agriculture is the backbone of the food production sector in PNG economy. The sector currently contributes 19 percent of total exports and accounts for 25 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and provides employment, income earning opportunities and subsistence consumption for the rural majority. The major export commodities are oil palm, coffee, cocoa, copra, rubber and tea. The important food crops are sweet potato, banana, sago, taro, Chinese taro, yams, cassava and sugarcane. Cash crops include oil palm, coffee, cocoa, copra, fresh vegetables and betel nut.

Livestock remains an important allied sector of agriculture and contributes 15 percent of the total domestic food production, and about 12 percent of the agricultural GDP. Pig and poultry production dominates and is adequately meeting the domestic demand, while the shortfall in other livestock and livestock products is met through excessive importation. Meat consumption in PNG has increased steadily over the last two decades, and is predicted to increase at a conservative rate of 5 percent per annum. Increased demand for meat is influenced by population growth rate (almost 3 percent annually), factors associated with urbanization, increased disposable income of citizens, and changes in people’s lifestyle and feeding habits.
The fisheries sector is a significant driver of the economy with PNG being the home of the largest tuna bays in the South Pacific. There are more than 500, 000 people participating in both coastal and inland subsistence fisheries, harvesting 25, 000- 50, 000 tonnes of marine produce per annum. PNG is renowned for its tuna, accounting for 20-30 percent of the South Pacific tuna catch and an estimated 10 percent of the global catch. About seventy percent of tuna processed in PNG is exported and the remaining is consumed locally as tinned tuna.

Forestry sector also makes a substantive contribution of 5 percent to the overall economy of PNG mainly through employment creation. There are 30-50 different species of commercial timber available in PNG and because of this, only 15 percent is used domestically while the remaining is exported. At the subsistence level, the challenge involved in generating income from the sales of specific species of timber as a cash crop would be the prolonged production time before harvest.

Due to the complexity of customary land tenure system, land ownership is by a group comprised of several family members, and distribution to individual family is usually as small as 150m2. Families farm on these allocated plots of land for their survival, and food produced is for both income generation and consumption. In this regard, it is difficult to measure the amount of nutritious food farmed specifically for consumption, especially considering the common practice in PNG is that the ‘best’ produce (crops/livestock) is for selling and what remains would be for consumption. Hence, growing nutritious food and incorporating into the family’s daily meals is something that is lacking in most households in PNG. Also, although women play a key role in food production, implementing most of the daily activities such as the gardening, rearing of livestock, and marketing of cash crops at the local urban markets, it is the head of the household (men) that are decision-makers.

Cash crops and poultry are sold at the local urban markets, while larger animals such as pig and cattle are sold at farm-gate. More than a third of the rural population live in locations where average cash income from agricultural activities is less than K20/per person/per year, while 18 percent live in locations where average cash income from agricultural activities is K150/per person/per year. The reason for this is characterized by poor agricultural environments, unwarranted weather patterns, soil fertility and poor availability of basic services such as road access and access to proper markets.

PNG is governed by various plans and policies which set directions for the country. The overarching government plan is the PNG Vision 2050 and among the seven (7) development pillars identified, agriculture is a priority development sector for the nation. The National Agriculture Development Plan 2007-2016 (NADP) gives prominence to the agriculture sector as it was developed to stimulate economic growth through the promotion of food security, income generation and poverty alleviation by involving all stakeholders.

 

This text is kindly provided by the authorities of this country

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