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Type Report
Title Improving productivity and the participation of youth and women in the Papua New Guinea cocoa, coconut and oil palm industries
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2009
The smallholder cocoa and oil palm sectors in PNG are characterised by low
productivity with incomes well below potential levels. Cocoa farmers have a
low adoption rate of new technologies and practices developed by the PNG
Cocoa Coconut Institute. In contrast, recent interventions in the smallholder oil
palm sector (ASEM/1999/084) have led to significant increases in smallholder
productivity, including the increased participation of women. A key aim of the
project was to replicate these increases in the smallholder cocoa industry. A
second aim was to evaluate a trial of a new payment system as developed in
ASEM/1999/084 for oil palm smallholders at Hoskins, West New Britain and to
modify it for possible introduction to other oil palm regions and for cocoa.
Labour shortages in both crops and poor block maintenance, especially in
cocoa, were found to be key constraints on smallholder productivity with the
non-payment or under-payment of family and hired labour as a key factor
limiting the supply of labour. In oil palm this was addressed through the “Mobile
Card” trial at Hoskins (ASEM/1999/084) which involved paying family and hired
labour a portion of the harvested fruit thereby circumventing the problem of
payment uncertainty associated with cash payments for labour. The trial was
evaluated as part of this project (Curry & Koczberski 2004), and a second
payment trial amongst Bialla growers ran for 23 months to December 2007.
By guaranteeing payment of labour, disincentives to the mobilisation of family
and hired labour were reduced. At Hoskins, monthly production rose from 75%
of the smallholder average to 113% during months when Mobile Card labour
was deployed. Productivity and incomes rose on 90% of trial blocks with 30%
improving by more than 50 percentage points. Similar results were obtained in
the Bialla trial (Koczberski & Curry 2008).

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