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Assessing the potential for expanding vegetable production in Central Province, Papua New Guinea


Chang, C and Bonney, L and Griffith, G and Maino, G, Assessing the potential for expanding vegetable production in Central Province, Papua New Guinea, Australian Agribusiness Perspectives, 103 Article 103. ISSN 1442-6951 (2015) [Professional, Refereed Article]

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It has been commonly assumed that most of the vegetable supply in Port Moresby, the capital city of Papua New Guinea, comes from the PNG highlands and from overseas, because Port Moresby and most parts of Central Province are too dry and infertile for vegetable production. However, contrary to that assumption, a market survey conducted in 2008 found that in fact nearly 90% of vegetable supplies come from Central Province, and particularly from smallholders in peri-urban areas around Port Moresby. Demand for fresh produce in Port Moresby has been growing due to population and economic growth and is expected to grow significantly in coming years and into the foreseeable future as a result of the PNG LNG project and other mining and agricultural development projects around the country. The objective of this paper was therefore to assess the potential for increasing vegetable production in Central Province, by carrying out a preliminary feasibility study based on informant interviews, field observations and a literature review.

Our key finding was that none of the four locations (6 Mile, Laloki, Bomana and Brown River), initially selected based on their proximity to Port Moresby, were good candidates for commercial vegetable production because of issues of land capability and land tenure. However, when the scope was extended beyond the initial 30 kilometre radius, we found that several areas warranted further consideration, including the Rigo District, Hiri West and Hiri East. Although they are more distant from Port Moresby, they appear to be potential candidates because: there is no land tenure issue; growing vegetables is their only source of income; and farmers are already working in groups to supply supermarkets. Other areas, such as the Sogeri Plateau, Kupiano, the Vanapa River and Goilala, may have very high agricultural potential and fertile soils, but poor transport infrastructure remains a serious challenge for agricultural development.

Given that increased production can be achieved through improving productivity of existing farmers and/or through opening up new production districts, different strategies will be required for the three different areas identified based on their comparative advantages and disadvantages. In the short term, it appears that production can be increased by improving productivity and access to water of farmers in the peri-urban areas and the Rigo/Hiri Districts. In the medium to longer term, more and more production could, with improved transport and marketing infrastructure, come from areas that are further afield such as Sogeri, Kupiano, the Vanapa River and Goilala. However, the market situation in Port Moresby is in a state of flux, on both the demand and supply fronts. Continued research, and ongoing monitoring of the market situation, is essential to allow informed decision making for the relevant industry and development agencies.

Item Details

Item Type:Professional, Refereed Article
Keywords:vegetable demand, vegetable production, feasibility study, Central Province, Papua New Guinea
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Agriculture, land and farm management
Research Field:Agricultural land management
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Horticultural crops
Objective Field:Field grown vegetable crops
UTAS Author:Bonney, L (Associate Professor Laurie Bonney)
ID Code:100084
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2015-04-30
Last Modified:2015-04-30

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