Oil palm, food security and adaptation among smallholder households in Papua New Guinea



This paper is concerned with food security and access to land for food crop gardening among first and second generation migrant oil palm producers in West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea. We examine changes in food security due to the rapid population growth in the presence of growing demand for land for oil palm production. Despite oil palm providing the major source of income for most migrant households, food crop gardening remains a primary livelihood activity, particularly for women, and especially so, during periods of low oil palm prices. Rising population and land pressures pose a threat to household food security and have implications for the supply of food to the rapidly growing urban population in the province. The paper begins by describing how household food security and access to land have changed over the past two decades. Then the paper examines how smallholder households are responding to shortages of garden land through the intensification of land use, intercropping immature oil palm with food crops and seeking access to land beyond the oil palm block. The paper also considers the role that research, agricultural extension and the milling companies can play in supporting strategies to promote food security among smallholders.