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Sustainability of Agriculture in Bougainville Province, Papua New Guinea

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This report presents the findings of a study of village agriculture conducted in Bougainville Province of Papua New Guinea in September-October 2002.The purpose of the study was to identify problems with current land use for subsistence food production; to assess the sustainability of village food production systems; to identify locations where stress is now occurring or may occur in the medium term (5-15 years); to assess the likely impact of increased cash cropping on food production; and to make recommendations for research and development activities to address any problems identified. Most parts of the province were visited over a six week period. Discussions were held with villagers in both formal and informal meetings, and numerous food gardens and plots of cash crops were inspected. Pressure is being exerted on land and the food production system by rapid population growth and, in some locations, by extensive plantings of export cash crops. In general, the supply of food is adequate in most parts of the province. Nevertheless, there are actual or potential problems for food security in some locations. This is particularly the case on a number of small islands. The population densities on a number of islands are among the highest in PNG. There is considerable stress in the Carteret Islands where carbohydrate food is chronically scarce, cash income is low, timber for fuel and construction is scarce and some environmental damage is occurring. There is also stress on Pinipel Island in the Nissan Group and in the four islands in the group west of Buka. Food supply is just adequate, but there are shortages of firewood and timber for construction, and food security will be inadequate if the population continues to increase rapidly without other changes.
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... Yet, they also provide income for a third of the world's population (largely in the Global South) and are a fundamental determinant of both human and environmental health. In Melanesia, smallholder farming systems have historically provided livelihoods and sustenance for the vast majority of the population through low input and sustainable farming practices [2]. Over time, however, this model of food production has faced growing pressures associated with agrarian transition and global environmental change. ...
... In this study, we focus on Bougainville, PNG, a case Table 1. Examples of shocks and stresses present in Melanesian food systems [2,4,14,15]. ...
... The reduction in cocoa production has also outlasted the conflict, with respondents stating local production being nowhere near what it was prior to the conflict. As of 2002, Bougainville was producing roughly 20% of the cocoa it produced prior to the conflict [2]. Many respondents stated they had roughly half the amount of cocoa plants they had before the conflict, and production rates were higher per plant prior to the conflict as the cocoa pod borer had not yet infested the area. ...
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