Social Systems

Improving livelihoods of smallholder families through increased productivity of coffee-based farming systems in the highlands of Papua New Guinea

Line drawing of chicken people and plants representing Social Systems program
Project code
AUD 2,122,000
Project leader
Professor George Curry - Curtin University
JAN 2010
JUN 2016
Project status
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This project aimed 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 PNG's second largest agricultural export after oil palm, although it employs far more people; 370,000 households (2.5 million people) produce coffee in 12 provinces. Despite coffee's economic importance for rural livelihoods, annual national production over the last 10 years has stagnated at around one million bags. 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 integrated nutrient management, extension and socioeconomic factors into the examination and analysis of smallholder production. Its research approach recognised how coffee production is embedded in agricultural, social, and economic systems that influence smallholder families' decisions.

Key partners
CSIRO Land and Water
National Agricultural Research Institute
PNG Coffee Industry Corporation