Dr Mike Bourke ‘The role of staple food crops in food security in Papua New Guinea’

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Thursday, 22 March 2018 - 12:30pm

Following some brief information on population distribution in PNG, an overview of food consumption is presented, including: food types consumed at a national level; the patterns in different ecological zones; changes in food consumption over the past 350 years; and distribution of staple food crops within PNG.

Food security in the PNG context is defined, noting factors that threaten food security. For most people, food security has improved over the past 120 years, and particularly in the past 60 years, because of: adoption of new crops, mostly from the Americas; adoption of more hardy cultivars of certain food crops; access to cash income which is used to purchase food when subsistence production is inadequate; urbanisation; and a good distribution system for rice and other imported foods. Some threats to food security include low cash incomes in many rural locations, climate change, land pressure on small islands and in the highlands, and lack of alternative foods to sweet potato in the highlands.

Dr Mike Bourke OL (PNG) is an agricultural scientist and geographer and is a specialist in PNG and Pacific village agriculture. He is an Honorary Associate Professor at The Australian National University and a self-employed consultant. He has been continuously involved in research, training, consulting and development in PNG and the Pacific Islands since 1970, and lived in PNG for 13 years. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agriculture and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Logohu by Papua New Guinea in 2015.

Mike has published over 200 papers on PNG agriculture; and has written and edited 12 books on PNG and Pacific agriculture, including the PNG Rural Development Handbook and Food and Agriculture in Papua New Guinea. He has conducted fieldwork in all 85 rural districts of PNG, as well as in parts of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island countries. He has expertise in many aspects of rural livelihoods, agricultural production, food production and food security in PNG and other Pacific Island states.