Highlands Regional Centre - Aiyura | PNG National Agricultural Research Institute

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Highlands Regional Centre - Aiyura

The centre of cordination for the Highlands Regional Centre is in the Aiyura valley, close to the township of Kainantu, Eastern Highlands Province. NARI Aiyura is situated at an altitude of 1664m above sea level. Research activities undertaken at this centre are representative of regions ranging from 1200 to 1800 masl.

Research Focus

The major research focus is on drought tolerant food crops (sweet potato, cassava), natural resource management (soil fertility, water), plant protection (IPM of Brassica, Oribius Weevil), and integrated farming systems for the main highlands.

1. World Bank Drought and Frost Project
The World Bank funded project was started in 1998 following the 1997 El Nino drought.

(a) Selection of Crops and Cultivars tolerant to drought and frost

Trials are underway in the highlands and in the dry lowlands. The objective is to evaluate drought tolerant cultivars of PNG's important staple crops. These include sweet potato, cassava and bananas.

(b) Soil and Water Management Technologies including Simple Irrigation Systems

Soil moisture conservation work focuses on mulching and use of contour hedgerows, using vetiver grass and other species. The project will also evaluate simple low cost pumping methods for small scale irrigation.

(c) Drought Early Warning Systems and Farm-level Contingency Plans

The project will correlate PNG rainfall data with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and sea surface temperature (SST) data to see whether this can be used to predict drought in PNG. Contingency plans for drought vulnerable areas will be developed to minimise the impact of drought on agricultural production and farm families.

Plant Protection
Farmer training in integrated pest management and the rearing and distribution of the beneficial insect, Diadegma semiclausum, a parasitic wasp, to control diamondback moth, is continuing. This benefits growers of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

(a) Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of Brassica
The IPM concept is receiving increased attention in plant protection globally, incorporating a wide range of pest control mechanisms including biological, cultural, chemical, plant resistance, use of pheromones, etc.

The Plant Protection Office of the Main Highlands Programme has been mainly involved in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of Diamondback Moth (DBM) Plutella xylostella on Brassicas (cabbage and related crops), through the use of an introduced beneficial wasp Diadegma semiclausum, as Biological Control Agent, promoting cultural practices and use of selective insecticides.

The major activities undertaken by the project were introduction, mass rearing and release of the beneficial insect, Diadegma semiclausum, a parasitoid of Diamondback Moth Plutella xylostella, developing IPM strategies and packages for PNG, training Brassica Farmers and Extensionists in the IPM technologies, testing new insecticides and monitoring establishment and rate of parasitism of the biological control agent.

The major achievement of the IPM project is that Diadegma semiclausum successfully established itself with exceptionally high rate of parasitism in major Brassica growing regions in the highlands. The parasitism of DBM is >60% to 100%, which is effectively suppressing DBM population to tolerable levels. About 12.5% of brassica farmers have indicated that they have reduced insecticide application and the IPM technology really benefits them.

(b) Oribius Weevil – ACIAR Project
Oribius weevils are pests of nearly all fruit and vegetable crops and feed extensively on foliage, fruits and shoots. A collaborative project between NARI and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research is under way to study the biology, ecology, taxonomy and effects of damage, and to understand the pest and develop control measures.

Specific objectives:

  • Assessment of the impact of Oribius on french bean, tomato, carrot and potato, citrus and coffee
  • Determine lethal concentration estimates for available insecticides against oribius and field test the most efficacious
  • Understannd temporal and spatial distribution of adult and larval oribius weevil within the cropping system
  • Initiate a systematic revision of the genus Oribius

Specific outputs:

  • Impact measures of oribius on growth and yield of the above crops
  • Most efficacious insecticide and its appropriate application rate determined for oribius weevil.
  • Basic ecological knowledge of the temporal and spatial abundance patterns of oribius.
  • Centralisation of oribius collections; preliminary classification of described and new species.

(c) Component of the Peanut Project

Variety trials, farmer surveys, aflatoxin sampling is carried out under this component but headquartered at Rice and Grain programme, Bubia, Morobe Province. For more information click here

Tissue Culture Laboratory

Tissue culture is a means of multiplying or storing plant material by using biotechnology that circumvent the need for large space and manpower. It is currently the most convenient way for the transport and rapid multiplication of disease-free plant material and also the safer option for maintaining germplasm collections.

The PNG Coffee Industry Corporation’s Coffee Research Institute built a Micropropagation Laboratory in 1988 in response to the then Coffee Rust Disease that had afflicted the coffee industry at the time. The plan was to have breeding programs coupled with the rapid micropropagation technology to revive the industry. Fortunately the problem was not as severe as predicted and since then, facilities were used in a variety of small ways, including micropropagation of potato and germplasm conservation of sweet potato.

IN 2002 a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between CRI and NARI, which enabled NARI to access the facilities.

NARI has a number of uses that it has ear-marked for the laboaratory, including:

1. Germplasm Conservation


Number of Varieties

Number of Replicates

Total number of cultures





Sweet Potato




















2. Rapid Micropropagation

NARI has been tasked to multiply 1000 potato plantlets per month for the Fresh Produce Development Company. The Agricultural Innovations Grant Facility, through AusAID, is funding the activities with a total of K90,890.

NARI Aiyura is currently working on the rapid multiplication of floral plants for supply to urban growers. Additionally, the programme is working on the protocols for the rapid multiplication of a number of crops, such as, broccoli, strawberry, pawpaw and corn.

Information, Outreach and Liaison

The Information, Outreach and Lision activities are undertaken as part of NARI's overall Information and Knowledge Programme. There are three main activities being undertaken at the centre level at HRC Aiyura.  They are:

  • Library and Information activities
  • Outreach activities
  • Information Centre

Library and Information Activities include the following tasks:

  • Literature searches mainly for NARI staff
  • General maintenance and upkeep of the library
  • Training in information management skills (computer skills, extension publications production, effective writing skills, communications and extension skills)

Outreach and Liaison activities include:

  • Attendance at shows, field days, open days, and other public activities
  • Creating linkages with partners and stakeholders for Research and Development Collaboration

Information Centre (Advisory Services)

  • Client Advisory Services (seeking advice and materials through mail, fax, phone, email, and in person)
  • Sale of NARI extension publications
  • Identification of information conduits
  • General information services
  • Guided tours at station

For further information, contact:

Information Centre
HRC NARI Aiyura,
P O Box 384,
Eastern Highlands Province

Telephone: (675) 737 3500
Fax: (675) 737 3516


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