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Partners : Partners September 2012
24 VEGETABLES SPRING 2012 PARTNERS A profitable patch BY PAUL JONES Demand for higher-value food products is growing in Papua New Guinea (PNG), particularly in large and expanding urban areas such as Port Moresby. Understanding the drivers of this demand is vital to linking smallholders into the market opportunities emerging. ACIAR-funded research has identified three demographic factors driving changes in both food preferences and where the food is consumed. These are: population growth estimated at about 2.1%, increasing migration from rural to peri-urban areas and the expansion of the gas and mining industry. One outcome is greater market demand for temperate vegetables. Supply, however, is limited by poor transport infrastructure from production areas, typically located in various highland regions. There is also the challenge to maintain consistent product quality as demand becomes more market orientated. These factors create an opportunity for farmers in the major alluvial valleys in Central Province. There, the national road network provides easier routes to market and a relatively dry climate limits disease pressure, while perennial streams have sufficient flow to meet the farmers' irrigation needs. To take advantages of these circumstances, farmers need to select the correct vegetables; adopt appropriate land, soil and water management practices; and implement the agronomic strategies required to grow quality produce. Helping Central Province farmers solve these vegetable supply chain challenges are technical experts in both Australia and PNG, supported by ACIAR. The project aims to equip farming communities to enter the temperate vegetable market in a way that improves their livelihoods and ensures the sustainability of those gains. FROM SUBSISTENCE PRODUCTION TO VIABLE AGRIBUSINESSES On the outskirts of Port Moresby, agronomist Philmah Seta-Waken checks the progress of her latest research as part of the project 'Increasing vegetable production in Central Province PNG for Port Moresby markets', led by the Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research. She is trying a new approach to helping local farmers grow The need for quality vegetables in Papua New Guinea's major urban centres is growing.
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