As the world grows ever more fixated on the concept of health foods, PNG is tapping into the booming global nut market with its native galip nut.
Local businesses are proving to be key partners in the research and development underway to commercialise galip nut production. These local businesses are essential to the success of a sustainable and enduring industry contributing to the improvement of rural household livelihoods.
As a species indigenous to the region, galip nut (Canarium indicum) has been used by the people of PNG for thousands of years. Now research into how to establish the nut as a high-end, value-added product has kickstarted an emerging galip nut industry.
Through ACIAR support for over 10 years, Professor Helen Wallace from the Centre for Planetary Health and Food Security (Griffith University) is leading a diverse team of science, agribusiness and social research experts from both Australia and PNG.
Team members from Griffith University, The University of Adelaide and PNG’s National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI) are expanding research into the processes needed to get the galip nut industry off the ground.
Professor Wallace said more than 80% of galip nut suppliers in PNG are smallholder farmers relying on family labour and living in very remote locations with limited access to distant markets.
‘In PNG, looking after galip nut is traditionally women’s work and women have really benefited from this growing industry,’ said Professor Wallace.
‘They are involved across the supply chain, from cultivation and harvesting to processing and selling. By scaling up the market, we will empower even more women to participate.’
Since the first project started more than 10 years ago, the galip nut project has made considerable progress. ACIAR-funded research has led Griffith University, The University of Adelaide and NARI to set up The Galip Nut Company, with a pilot processing facility in East New Britain, PNG’s Islands Region. The facility demonstrates the profitability and demand for galip nut and that galip nut can be processed and produced commercially for export.
Both galip nut farmers and foragers can sell nuts to the processing facility, rather than processing the nuts themselves and selling into limited local markets.
This is already providing benefits and helping to improve the livelihoods of these farming households. Recent surveys of smallholders participating in the galip nut industry indicate that 70–90% of them are able to save money as a buffer against future household expenses.
Private sector partners
As the industry gains traction, the research partners are keen to see private sector partners take over the processing and distribution of galip nut.
‘Other investors have used our research to set up their own operation and started buying from farmers. This means more income for thousands of farmers in PNG, and also encourages people to keep native galip trees in their gardens and forests,’ said Professor Wallace.
Among those already involved is Frangipani Foods. The company’s founder and CEO is Dr John Moxon CBE, a former senior scientist at NARI. Through Frangipani Foods, Dr Moxon is working with the galip nut project to get the industry off the ground and launched internationally, targeting global health food markets.
‘Galip nut is packed with vitamins, antioxidants and omega oils, and it contains 7 of the 9 essential amino acids,’ said Dr Moxon.
‘We want to lead the way with others to introduce it to the world as a major export commodity that benefits our rural households and national economy,’ said Dr Moxon.
‘We started developing the supply chains about a year ago in partnerships with our rural households, farmer associations and cooperatives to provide reliable and sustainable markets for their produce. We also work closely with NARI and are very appreciative of the support they give us’.
In store now
Other private sector partners include the PNG supermarket chain City Pharmacy Limited. At the behest of its CEO, Mr Mahesh Patel, it already carries The Galip Nut Company products. He is a strong supporter of the project, has given prominent shelf space to the galip nut in his stores and is committed to assisting sustainable development in PNG.
The founder and managing director of DMS Organics, Ms Dorothy Luana, is another private sector figure having a big impact on the galip nut project. DMS Organics is an agribusiness and retailer operating out of East New Britain.
Ms Luana works closely with the project team and NARI as a processor of galip nuts, and reports any problems or issues she’s having, which the project then looks at resolving. This then helps her to improve her own products, which are stocked in City Pharmacy Limited supermarkets.
Associate Professor Craig Johns, who is the associate director of agribusiness innovation at The University of Adelaide, has led the latest value-chain research for the galip nut project. He is an advocate for involving private sector businesses in the project.
‘To have sustainable development and long-lasting impact, the private sector needs to take ownership,’ he said. The current project to enhance private sector development of the industry is due to end in 2023 and Associate Professor Johns is eager to help move the sector forward.
Private sector partners are receiving help with accreditation in Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points, which is needed to export products. The research team is helping to barcode products and connect PNG businesses with others interested in testing and buying different nut products, including galip nut oil for cosmetics, galip nuts in snack nut mixes, and ground galip meal for cooking.
Associate Professor Johns is confident that the proactive private sector partners already involved in the industry’s development will give the industry legs, allowing it to stand – and run – on its own, giving smallholders long-term opportunities for improved livelihoods.
ACIAR PROJECT: ‘Enhancing private sector-led development of the Canarium nut industry in Papua New Guinea (Phase 2)’ (FST/2017/038)