Projects

 

Improving livelihoods of smallholder coffee communities in PNG (ACIAR ASEM-2016-100).

2017-2022

Project Leader:

Prof George Curry (Curtin University), and co-investigators, Dr Timothy Sharp (Curtin University), Dr Gina Koczberski (Curtin University) and Dr Mike Webb (CSIRO)

PNG Research Partners:

Coffee Industry Corporation:   Dr Reuben Sengere (Project leader)

Coffee is central to the livelihoods of people in the highlands region of Papua New Guinea. Despite coffee’s economic significance annual national production has stagnated over the past decade. This is despite a rapidly growing population in the highlands. Like cocoa and coconuts, plantation production has declined through time with smallholders steadily increasing their share of total national production.

As the plantation sector declined, the services delivered by the plantations to surrounding smallholders such as extension, planting material and centralised processing also contracted and government extension was unable to fill this gap effectively. The result has been reduced smallholder productivity and declining quality of parchment coffee, and lower prices paid to smallholders

Coffee smallholders are sensitive to returns to labour. This has contributed to fluctuating smallholder production in response to international coffee prices. Poor processing practices have also meant many coffee smallholders receive low prices for their coffee, and this in turn has led to declining smallholder interest, particularly in locations where viable alternative income sources exist.

The overarching question for this project is how to increase returns to labour, particularly for women, through the adoption of new technologies and farming practices that improve coffee quality and total production while being compliant with the environmental criteria of the main certification organisations.

The project objectives are to:

  1. Develop, field test, refine and facilitate the uptake and use of an extension training package by government, private sector, PPAP and NGO-supported extension providers.
  2. Develop a model for demucilager use by farmer groups that delivers social and economic benefits to men and women and which is compliant with the environmental criteria of the main certification organisations.
  3. Design and test farmer-driven extension initiatives for mobilising labour and improving nutrient acquisition, retention and use in coffee and food gardens to improve the uptake of technologies and extension strategies.
  4. Identify and develop culturally acceptable and nutrient efficient coffee-vegetable intercropping systems as a means to both increase coffee yields and incomes, and improve income-earning opportunities for women.
  5. Assess the social and economic benefits to smallholders of direct cherry sales to processors and quantify changes in the amount and distribution of household income between men and women.

This project expands on, and implements findings from, the earlier project Improving livelihoods of smallholder families through increased productivity of coffee-based farming systems in the highlands of Papua New Guina (ASEM/2008/036):  https://www.aciar.gov.au/publication/FR2017-08-Improving-Livelihoods-Smallholder-Families-through-Increased-Productivity

Identifying opportunities and constraints for rural women’s engagements in small-scale agricultural enterprises in Papua New Guinea (ACIAR ASEM-2014-054).

2016-2019

Project Leader:

Dr Gina Koczberski  (Curtin University); and co-investigators, Prof George Curry (Curtin University) and Dr Timothy Sharp (Curtin University)

PNG Research Partners:

Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association:  Steven Nake (Project leader for oil palm)
Papua New Guinea Cocoa and Coconut Institution: Robert Nailina (Project leader for cocoa)
Coffee Industry Corporation:  Dr Rueben Sengere (Project leader for coffee)
Papua New Guinea University of Technology:  Dr Veronica Bue (Project leader)

This project aims to study the factors that explain Papua New Guinean women’s low level of engagement in small-scale agricultural enterprises; identify the processes and pathways that help them move into agribusiness; and pilot/scale out identified pathways for women to move from Tier 2 (the growing of crops specifically to sell at markets) to Tier 3 (large scale production and retail of agricultural products).

Women are central to family livelihoods and wellbeing in rural Papua New Guinea. They produce the bulk of subsistence food crops, provide much of the labour for producing export cash crops, and fill valued social and community roles. Women tend to spend more of their income than men on meeting their families’ needs, so income gains for women improve their families’ quality of life. Women throughout rural Papua New Guinea are keen to increase their cash incomes.

The project objectives are to:

  1. Identify the enabling factors and individual characteristics associated with successful entrepreneurial rural women.
  2. Identify the key pathways and processes to facilitate the transition of smallholder women into successful entrepreneurs in agribusiness.
  3. Improve the capacity of women to engage in successful enterprises in agribusiness through better access to networks and business development services and a more conducive policy environment.

Strengthening livelihoods for food security amongst cocoa and oil Palm farming communities in Papua New Guinea (ACIAR ASEM-2012-072).

2014-2018

Project Leader:

Dr Gina Koczberski (Curtin University); and co-investigators, Prof George Curry (Curtin University)  and Assoc Prof Paul Nelson (James Cook University)

PNG Research Partners :
Papua New Guinea Oil Palm Research Association:  Steven Nake (Project leader for oil palm)
Papua New Guinea Cocoa and Coconut Institution:  Joachim Lummani (Project leader for cocoa)
Papua New Guinea Unitech:  Dr Veronica Bue (Project leader)

This project examines food security amongst smallholder cocoa and oil palm households in Papua New Guinea where gardening systems are under stress.

Oil palm growers’ per capita incomes are falling and their access to land for food gardening declining because of population pressure. The Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) is devastating smallholder cocoa growers’ production income and subsequently reduced their capacity to purchase food.

This project will develop and evaluate interventions to relieve the stressors on farming systems that make smallholders vulnerable to food and livelihood insecurity. It will assess the status of food security by studying socio-economic and cultural factors that influence smallholders’ farming and livelihood systems and their capacity to adapt and respond to stressors.
The project will then develop interventions to relieve pressures on farming systems, thereby reducing smallholders’ vulnerability to food and income insecurity.

The four main research objectives are to:

  1. Assess the status of food security among cocoa and oil palm households.
  2. Determine the key factors that enhance or constrain the capacity of cocoa and oil palm households to adapt and respond to food insecurity.
  3. Enhance food and livelihood security through strengthening food production and diversifying incomes.
  4. Strengthen household and institutional capacity to address food and livelihood security through improved access to training, information and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) innovations. This project aims to develop new farmer-driven extension models involving partnerships between the public and commercial sectors to improve nutrient management, extension delivery and the mobilisation of labour for coffee production. This project aims to develop new farmer-driven extension models involving partnerships between the public and commercial sectors to improve nutrient management, extension delivery and the mobilisation of labour for coffee production.

Improving livelihoods of smallholder families through increased productivity of coffee-based farming systems in the highlands of Papua New Guinea (ACIAR ASEM-2008-036).

2010-2017

Project Leader: Prof George Curry (Curtin University); and co-investigators, Dr Gina Koczberski (Curtin University) and Dr Mike Webb (CSIRO)

PNG Research Partners:
Coffee Industry Corporation:  Drs Nelson Simbiken and Mark Kenny (Project leaders)
National Agricultural Research Institute: Mr Johannes Pakatul (Project leader)

This project aims to develop new farmer-driven extension models involving partnerships between the public and commercial sectors to improve nutrient management, extension delivery and the mobilisation of labour for coffee production.

Coffee is Papua New Guinea’s second largest agricultural export after oil palm. The sector employs 370,000 households (2.5 million people), who produce coffee in 12 provinces. Despite coffee’s economic importance for rural livelihoods, annual national production over the last 10 years has stagnated. Like other commodity tree crops, plantation production has declined since the 1980s. Smallholders have steadily increased their share of total national production to over 85%, but smallholder yields have fallen and coffee quality is poor. Plantation yields of green beans are almost twice as high as smallholder yields, indicating that better maintenance of coffee gardens and higher rates of harvesting can considerably improve productivity and incomes.

This project integrates nutrient management, extension and socioeconomic factors into the examination and analysis of smallholder production. Its research approach recognises how coffee production is embedded in agricultural, social, and economic systems that influence smallholder families’ decisions.

The project has three broad objectives:

  1. Identify the main socio-economic factors affecting the productivity of smallholders, including how they interact with nutrient management strategies and the uptake of extension and new technologies to design better targeted intervention strategies to strengthen smallholder livelihoods.
  2. Document the current status of soil fertility and the pathways of nutrient movement into, through, and out of smallholder coffee and food gardens to identify points of vulnerability to nutrient loss and points of intervention to maximise nutrient retention or accumulation.
  3. Design and test farmer-driven extension initiatives for mobilising labour and improving nutrient acquisition, retention and use in coffee and food gardens to improve the uptake of technologies and extension strategies.
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