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Partners : Partners: Papua New Guinea
18 biosecuriTy SPRING 2012 PARTNERS GrOwinG BiOsecuriTy since agricultural production is so important to the Papua New Guinean economy, it is not just farmers that stand to lose when pests and diseases threaten crops. By PAuL JONes J ust four crops account for more than 90% of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG’s) agricultural exports: coffee, cocoa, coconuts and oil palm. Pest and disease outbreaks in these production systems have the potential to seriously affect the nation’s economy. There is also a less quantifiable impact on food security as pests and diseases gnaw away at smallholder food crops. Australian biosecurity expertise can play a vital part in helping to find viable, long- term solutions to a range of pest and disease problems, including helping scientists to equip smallholders with the means to manage these problems. Many ACIAR projects contain a biosecurity component, often integrated into broader project approaches that help producers deal with multifaceted issues, from improving quality to optimising supply chain opportunities. cAsh-crop cAse study: cocoA Cocoa is PNG’s second largest agricultural export crop after oil palm. Existing plantings are highly concentrated geographically in the islands region, but many other areas in the country are suitable for cocoa production. Smallholder production has been increasing by about 5% a year over the past 10 years. About 70,000 producers now account for 70% of total output. Otto Kuinba is a manager at the NGIP Agmark Group, a company that trades in and exports PNG cocoa and has its headquarters in Kokopo, East New Britain Province. It also contributes to national workshops for the cocoa sector. “ We purchase cocoa from large and small producers countrywide,” Otto Kuinba says. “But in the workshops we teach farmers to recognise and adopt good cocoa farming practices.” The workshops teach cocoa farmers about frequent harvesting, sanitation and pruning. “ The real challenge is that most smallholders are not aware of the seriousness of cocoa pod borer (CPB) spreading and how to deal with it.” As a result, the cocoa industry in PNG is facing the most significant dilemma in its history. In spite of growth in production and exports over the past 10 years, the arrival of CPB (which is a mosquito-sized moth in the adult phase of its life cycle) in 2006 threatens to devastate the industry in East New Britain Province, its major producing region, and the provinces of Madang and East Sepik. The CPB larvae feed inside cocoa pods on the material that surrounds the individual cocoa seeds. The larval feeding causes the seeds to stick together, which produces undersized seeds. These poor-quality cocoa beans are unmarketable. Annastasia Priscilla K awi
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