Opportunities and challenges for coffee production in Papua New Guinea’s highlands

Share this to :

Coffee is one of the most important smallholder cash crops in Papua New Guinea. It accounted for $156 million of export earnings, 13% of agricultural export revenues, and 1.4% of total export revenues in PNG in 2021. According to the PNG Rural Household Survey 2023, approximately 55% of sampled households in the highlands produce coffee.

During March and April 2024, IFPRI collaborated with the University of Goroka (UoG) to conduct gender-differentiated focus group discussions with coffee producers in Simbu and Eastern Highlands provinces to better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with coffee production and marketing in PNG. We completed 24 focus groups, each with 10 community members, discussing production, input usage, sales volume, production shocks, pest control, labor needs and market access.

Sampled communities varied with respect to coffee-production scale, pest management, and marketing channels. On average, households reported owning two to three coffee gardens, with most trees aged 15 years or older. To calculate an approximate range of coffee yield per hectare, we asked producers to estimate the coffee yields of different-aged trees by drawing a line on the coffee-bean bags used to transport output to processors in town. Additionally, we asked focus groups to estimate the share of trees, by age, that are grown on an average household’s coffee block. Furthermore, we measured seven coffee blocks in seven different villages to count the number of trees by age category per one hectare area.

According to respondents, within a coffee block, a quarter of trees were aged between four and 15 years and equivalent shares were reported for trees aged between 15 and 30 years and above 30 years, respectively (Figure 1). Based on the dimensions and tree count of the selected blocks, we estimate that 3,000-4,000 coffee trees are grown per hectare of land. There are three harvest cycles for coffee within the focus group areas. For example, for trees aged from four to 15 years, the first harvest is the largest and constitutes about 50% of the overall yield, while the second and third harvests make up 30% and 20% respectively.

Share this to :