As one of the largest nations in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea is home to a vast agricultural industry where more than 80 percent of the population practices subsistence farming.
The nation boasts a tropical climate suited to major commodities like coffee, cocoa, and tea. But not only is PNG largely dependent on its agricultural industries, it’s emerging as a new player in high-end produce with global interest in some of their prime offerings.
Here’s an insight into the produce of PNG.
Only 25 percent of PNG’s large and geographically varied land mass is currently used for agriculture, but over two-thirds of the population practices it in some form, with major exports including coffee, oil, cocoa, copra, tea, rubber, and sugar.
“Yam, taro, banana and sweet potato are the main staple crops grown,” New Ag notes, while garden farms also produce a diversity of other crops including spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, broad beans, cucumbers, and sugar cane.
Among the biggest elements in Papua New Guinea’s agricultural and export sector is the production of coffee.
Grown mainly in the mountainous Eastern Highland Province, Western Highland Province and Simbu, the industry employs 2.5 million people, comprises one percent of world production and is PNG’s second highest agricultural export.
Coffee production in PNG dates back to 1926 when 18 commercial coffee plantations were first established, although the first coffee could have been introduced as early as the 1890s.
The nation is specifically known for its Jamaican Blue Mountain variety which was established in the 1930s and is renowned internationally as a premium coffee product.
PNG Coffee explains: “Go to any gourmet food hall: Harrod’s, Galleries Lafayette, David Jones, in fact, any specialty gourmet shop and see for yourself the price of Blue Mountain and you will agree that our Blue Mountain coffee is indeed rare and is the finest available.”
Although a major export, coffee growing remains a decentralised affair, with small coffee farmers accountable for over 85 percent of total national production.
Behind coffee and palm oil, cocoa is among the top crops of PNG, although the past few years have been tough for an industry battling cocoa pod borer.
At its peak in 2010, PNG contributed 48,000 tonnes of cocoa to the international market, valued at $131.5m. Most of this was supplied by small landholders who comprise 80 percent of the cocoa production industry.
After some hard years behind them, the cocoa industry has turned a corner in PNG, and is recognised as producing among of the finest beans available.
“Right now I would say that PNG cocoa has the potential to be some of best cocoa in the world, hands down,” Californian Chocolate maker Brad Kintzer told Air Niugini’s Paradise Magazine.
A popular vegetable of prestige throughout the Pacific, Yams are another major produce sector in PNG. The country’s supply accounts for 0.5 percent of the world share in market tonnes courtesy of an agricultural tradition that’s said to date back over 7000 years.
Gudmundur (Gummi) Fridriksson, is the CEO of Paga Hill Development Company (PNG) Ltd, overseeing the development of Paga Hill Estate, a world-class, master planned estate located in the heart of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Gudmundur first arrived in Papua New Guinea over 20 years ago and is passionate about sharing PNG’s natural beauty and diverse cultures with the world. Find out more about Gummi Fridriksson on his website: http://www.gudmundurfridriksson.com/and about the Paga Hill Estate development at http://www.pagahillestate.com/