SOTP2015: Food Security in PNG

State of the Pacific 2015

In 1978 a DPI paper concluded that food supply in PNG was adequate in most places most of the time. From time to time, some or all parts of PNG faced food shortages caused by El-Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events in the Pacific.

In the early 2000s, two independent estimates of consumption and production, both found that found around 80 percent of the food consumed in PNG was produced there. But imported food, mainly rice, wheat and tinned fish, were very important because traditional diets were high in carbohydrates but very low in fats, oils and proteins; and in urban areas, only 50 percent of the food consumed was produced in country.

This session will examine what is known about food security in PNG in 2015. It will first present information on the shortterm impact on food security of the 2015 ENSO event. It will then raise the longer term threat to food security in PNG of a rapidly growing population.

The 2015 ENSO began in June this year and has caused frosts in a number of high altitude areas which have disrupted production of the staple foods of sweet potato and potato. Elsewhere a long period without rain is reducing food supply and causing hardship. The session will present an up-to-date report on this situation.

Meanwhile, in the background, PNG’s population continues to steady increase at around 2.5 per cent per year. It is now estimated to be approaching 8 million and is predicted to reach 14 million by 2040. At least until 2000, the increased demand for food from a growing population was being met by an intensification of land use. Land is being used more often and fallowed less often which, in absence of changed technologies, will ultimately lead to land degradation and a lack of capacity to increase production.

Updated:  18 May 2022/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team