Papua New Guinea

Previous Pacific island countries
infographic showing information about Papua New Guinea A$5.04 million Budgeted funding 21 ACIAR-supported projects 15 Bilateral and regional research projects 6 Small projects and research activities 16 Projects specific to Sri Lanka 5 Regional projects


Papua New Guinea’s economy is made up of 2 main industries: the labour-intensive agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, and the mineral and energy extraction sector, which accounts for most of the country’s export earnings.

The agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors are incredibly diverse, from remote subsistence crop production to emerging freshwater aquaculture systems to commercially oriented export crops such as palm oil, cocoa and coffee. These mixed subsistence and market systems support the livelihoods of more than 8.2 million people (85% of the population of Papua New Guinea). This immense diversity of livelihood systems brings significant benefits but also significant challenges for Papua New Guinea policymakers, including limited infrastructure for delivering inputs and products to markets, high rates of inadequate nutrition, vulnerability to weather variability and climate change, and widespread lack of off-farm employment for youth. On-farm productivity is consequently and typically low. Weak institutions remain an ongoing challenge and lead to weak strategies and interventions. Improving returns from agriculture, fisheries and forestry and strengthening food nutritional security remain critical to improving the livelihoods of the majority of households in Papua New Guinea.

With renewed interest in agriculture and a commitment to expanding key agriculture industries, in 2022 the government created 3 new ministries under agriculture (for coffee, livestock and oil palm) with a specific focus on downstream processing and export market access.

Direction for development for the country is currently provided by the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050, Papua New Guinea Development Strategic Plan 2010–2030 and 4 Medium Term Development Plans. The government emphasises that by 2050, renewable sectors including agriculture, fisheries and forestry, must account for 70% of GDP compared with the current 26%. Complementing these plans, the Papua New Guinea National Food Security Policy 2018–2027 guides resources to build sustainable food security for all Papua New Guineans. A primary aim of the policy is to foster strong public–private partnerships and leverage agriculture’s potential to promote enhanced nutrition and health by bringing together profitable smallholder farming, efficient food value chains, women’s income and child nutrition. Of particular interest to ACIAR is the PNG Agriculture Medium Term Development Plan. This plan defines the specific areas for investment in agriculture.

Over the past 40 years, ACIAR has supported projects throughout Papua New Guinea across its diversity of the rural livelihoods systems. While we continue to work across the country, areas of particular focus are the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and the Western Province. Through the South Fly Resilience Plan, Australia is looking to assist communities in the South Fly district to transition out of food insecurity and develop resilient, sustainable livelihoods and inclusive governance.

Country priorities

ACIAR research partnerships with Papua New Guinea will continue to focus on horticulture, livestock, fisheries, forestry and socioeconomics. Ultimately, the research is working to secure improvements in food supply, food access and rural incomes for smallholders through increased productivity and enhanced access to markets and services.

Research partnerships aim to:

  • overcome social, cultural and policy obstacles to benefits from agricultural technologies, particularly with respect to gender equity and women
  • improve smallholder vegetables and starchy staple systems
  • analyse commodity and market chains to guide policy and improve production and marketing for cocoa, coffee, coconut and oil palm crops
  • enhance germplasm quality for high-value tree species to improve community forestry and agroforestry systems
  • work with private sector partners and farmers to adopt promising agricultural technologies
  • monitor and identify options for managing biosecurity threats
  • enhance livelihoods from smallholder fisheries, and inland and marine aquaculture
  • increase household income through diversifying enterprises.

In 2023–24, ACIAR will refresh its partnership with Papua New Guinea establishing a long-term intent to underpin both research and capacity-building collaboration. ACIAR will continue to support partner institutions to build the capacity of research personnel through long-term and short-term courses, informal networking events and hands-on experience at the project level. Through this process, we play a significant role in contributing to the human capital of Papua New Guinea to develop skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

As women make up more than 50% of the labour force engaged in agriculture and 35% of women are actively involved in economic agriculture, gender equity will remain integral to all our projects in Papua New Guinea. Women in rural communities play a significant role in subsistence food production, household food nutritional security and agricultural value chains.

2023–24 research program

The research program addresses our high-level objectives, as outlined in the ACIAR 10-Year Strategy 2018–2027, as well as specific issues and opportunities identified by ACIAR and our partner organisations.

The following table lists ACIAR-supported projects active in Papua New Guinea during 2023–24.

Current and proposed projects in Papua New Guinea, 2023–24

ProgramProject title & codeCountries
Climate Change
 Using carbon markets to drive multiple benefits for Papua New Guinea coffee farmers CLIM/2022/109Papua New Guinea
 Finding a genetic basis for oil palm responses to basal stem rot in a long-term infected block CROP/2021/130Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
 Improving peri-urban and remote inland fish farming in Papua New Guinea to benefit both community-based and commercial operators FIS/2018/154Papua New Guinea
Towards more profitable and sustainable mabé pearl and shell-based livelihoods in the western Pacific FIS/2019/122Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga
Strengthening agricultural resilience in Western Province: developing methods for strengths-based livelihoods approach FIS/2021/113Papua New Guinea
Strengthening agricultural resilience in Western Province: mapping place-based strengths and assets FIS/2021/122Papua New Guinea
 Enhancing private sector-led development of the canarium industry in Papua New Guinea – phase 2 FST/2017/038Papua New Guinea
Promoting smallholder teak and sandalwood plantations in Papua New Guinea and Australia FST/2018/178Papua New Guinea
Developing nut industries in Bougainville FST/2022/124Papua New Guinea
 Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in the Pacific islands HORT/2016/185Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga
Safeguarding and deploying coconut diversity for improving livelihoods in the Pacific islands HORT/2017/025Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu
Protecting the coffee industry from coffee berry borer in Papua New Guinea and Australia HORT/2018/194Papua New Guinea
Livestock Systems
 Strengthening Pacific bee-keeping industries for improved production and livelihoods in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands LS/2014/042Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands
Strengthened surveillance for vector-borne zoonotic and livestock diseases in Papua New Guinea LS/2021/158Papua New Guinea
Social Systems
 Improving livelihoods of smallholder coffee communities in Papua New Guinea ASEM/2016/100Papua New Guinea
Climate smart agriculture opportunities for enhanced food production in Papua New Guinea ASEM/2017/026Papua New Guinea
Gender equitable agricultural extension through institutions and youth engagement in Papua New Guinea SSS/2018/137Papua New Guinea
Mitigating gender-based violence risk in international agricultural research SSS/2022/116Papua New Guinea
Soil & Land Management
 Better soil and land information for improving Papua New Guinea’s agricultural production and integrated land use planning – building a revitalised PNGRIS2 SLAM/2019/106Papua New Guinea
Optimising soil management and health in Papua New Guinea integrated cocoa farming systems - phase 2 SLAM/2019/109Papua New Guinea
 Improving water governance in Papua New Guinea WAC/2023/180Papua New Guinea


Country Manager, Papua New Guinea

Dr Nora Omot

Research Program Managers

an illustration of a computer with the ACIAR logo in its centre


More information about our projects is available on the ACIAR website. Search for the project title or project code.


Next East and South-East Asia region program