NARI’s portfolio of livestock research projects are currently managed out of the Livestock Research Station at Labu near the NARI Head Office. Current projects are operating out of the livestock research facilities at Labu as well as the Highland Regional Research Centre at Tambul in the Western Highlands Province, the Island Regional Research Centre at Kerevat, East New Britain Province, and the Southern Regional Research Centre at Laloki in Central Province.
NARI is expanding these facilities in the scope and scale of their activities in line with its medium-term strategic plan in livestock research for development in Papua New Guinea.
The main focus of livestock research for development effort in the short-to-medium-term is on the delivery of appropriate technologies to make smallholder livestock production more effective and sustainable, in particular on developing lower cost feeding options through enhanced utilisation of local feed resources for priority small livestock (pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep and rabbits).
Recently, the scope of work was expanded to cover inland aquaculture relevant to smallholder farmers as a source of high quality animal protein, income and gainful employment in high and low altitude areas of the country with limited access to coastal fisheries resources. Priority activities include development of lower cost feeding options for profitable Tilapia and carp farming, maintenance of breeding stock and pond management.
Smallholder livestock in PNG plays important roles in the lives of rural, per-urban and urban farmers and makes significant direct and indirect contributions to the national economy. It also has the potential to develop into a major renewable industry and open up diverse opportunities for smallholder farmers to actively participate in the fast expanding national economy. Cognizant of this potential, NARI’s livestock research aims at supporting lasting commercialisation of smallholder livestock enterprises in major economic corridors of the country.
Furthermore, enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of traditional extensive livestock keeping practices increases the contribution of this industry to the National Government’s objectives of food self-sufficiency and nutritional security. Integration of livestock enterprises into plantation of coconuts, cocoa, oil palm, coffee and agro-forestry is considered a viable strategy to improve total farm productivity and environmental health.
Smallholder farmers are responding to emerging domestic markets for livestock products by increasing their investments in market oriented livestock activities, intensifying their management practices and expanding their holdings of, for instance, growing pigs, broiler chicken and layer birds.
These efforts are hampered by lack of, or limited, access to commercial breeding animals, other essential farm supplies, technical advice and market information. Public research and development efforts must address these constraints not only by developing and disseminating appropriate improved technologies, but also by creating enabling policy environments.
Broad Research Areas
After a nation-wide consultation with a range of stakeholders, the following broad research priority areas have been identified for the short to medium term. On-going consultations with farmers and extension agencies are an integral component of all research projects to make livestock research more responsive to current and emerging bottle neck to livestock development.
Poultry meat and eggs for household consumption and sale
Chicken meat and pork are major sources of animal protein in PNG. Current research is addressing the very high cost of formulated rations for intensive and semi-intensive broiler and egg production by smallholder farmers who either supply broilers to commercial companies or sell at village markets. Demand for poultry meat and eggs is high and growing.
The main strategies are to enable smallholder farmers use local feed resources as substitutes to imported ingredients so as to reduce the cost of rations and reduce dependence on commercial feeds. Other interventions include improvement in the management of other householder poultry including free range chickens and Muscovy ducks, and overcoming the problem of producing or obtaining replacement chicks of commercial broiler chicken, village chicken and Muscovy ducks.
Improving small-scale pig production
Optimal management and feeding systems are being developed to address the problem of producing pigs for both household consumption as well as sales. Pigs are the most popular livestock in PNG and have important roles in food security and socio-cultural functions. Apart from the rapidly expanding small-scale pig growing operations that serve major economic corridors around large mining projects, there is a substantial market-oriented smallholder pig growing operation in urban and peri-urban areas that target urban as well as peri-urban markets. The priority research areas include the assessment of the suitability and availability of local feedstuffs for appropriate diets and development of management systems to reduce mortality and improve reproduction.
Successful development and delivery of the sweet potato ensiling technology in combination with effective use of other local feeds provided impetus for profitable growing of crossbred and even indigenous pigs even in hitherto subsistent communities of remote highlands. Emerging technological and socio-economic barriers to widespread adoption of this technology are being addressed by series of collaborative research projects.
Improving goat and sheep production
Goat and sheep production is a relatively small but fast growing activity in the country. Current research emphasis is on the collection of baseline information on goats and sheep numbers, their levels of production and farmer attitudes to sheep and goat farming and utilisation. This information will lead to the development of strategies to improve the production of sheep and goats nationally, but especially in the highlands, for improved diets and income through breeding, improved nutrition and better health.
Goats are also being promoted as convenient producers of milk as well as meat in needy areas. Research is also looking at health problems (internal parasites and foot rot) of goats and sheep and providing integrated control measures.
Research for improved nutrition focuses on the introduction and evaluation of new pasture and fodder cultivars and testing of feeding and management systems such as grazing under tree crops or cut and carry systems.
Inland fisheries is emerging as an important area of economic activity for smallholder farmers inhabiting areas far off the coastline. There are numerous inland water bodies where viable smallholder and commercial fisheries can be promoted using mainly tilapia, trout, carp and baramundi. These can be a source of income, food, employment and a means of farm integration.
The priority areas of research in this field are feeds and feeding systems, production and supply of fingerlings and breeding. Apart from developing its research facilities at Labu, NARI is seeking collaboration in developing available facilities in the country with other development, academic and research institutions.
Rabbit feeding and management
Research is being conducted to develop least-cost feeding and raising systems to produce rabbit meat for household use and income generation. Research activities include the determination of optimal feeding systems in each location using local feed resources and assessing and alleviating the causes of juvenile mortality and poor reproduction.
NARI has a well established expertise and facilities for evaluation of the feeding value of local feed resources. The bio-assay facility at Labu is being used to estimate the Apparent Metabolisable Energy (AME) of even non-conventional feed resources such as sago, tropical tuber crops, a wide range of agro-industrial by-products and leaves of tree legumes for clients in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island countries.
In addition to conducting contracted nutrition research for commercial and public institutions, the facility is also being used to train technical staff as well as graduate students, and conduct contract research for partner institutions.
Where large-scale mining and agricultural projects involve the relocation and rehabilitation of rural communities, the livestock research experts are engaged in exploring and demonstrating viable smallholder livestock development interventions as part of rehabilitation of rural livelihoods.
Other Research Areas
Other important areas requiring research in the near future include development of a national strategy for the management of animal genetic resources, testing of integrated farming of livestock and crops, including commercial plantations of oil palm, coconut, cocoa and coffee, selected strategic areas of research to promote participation of smallholder farmers in major livestock markets with the support of the private commercial sector. These are at various stages of development.
For further information, contact:
Dr Pikah Kohun
NARI Livestock Research Projects
P.O Box 1639, LAE 411
Papua New Guinea