Southern Regional Centre - Laloki | PNG National Agricultural Research Institute

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Southern Regional Centre - Laloki

NARI's Southern Regional Centre (SRC) is located at Laloki in the Central Province, about 30 km outside the capital, Port Moresby. The research and development activities of the centre are focused towards the dry-lowlands of PNG. The dry-lowlands have a rainfall less than 2,000 mm, pronounced dry periods with soil moisture stress, typically with man-induced grasslands or savanna. Population densities are low to very low. Agriculture is characterized as low-intensity subsistence.

Research studies and other research related activities executed there include:

  1. Drought assessment trials: Testing of drought tolerant and early maturing sweet potato varieties, promising cassava varieties and drought tolerant banana varieties.
  2. Yam Agronomy:  Transfer of South Pacific Yam Network (SPYN) yam collection from Bubia to Laloki and maintenance, release of two most liked African yam (D. rotundata) varieties and evaluation of the suitability of Gliricidia sepium and Sesbania grandifolia for live-staking of yams
  3. Crop protection studies on fruit flies; red-banded mango caterpillar and upgrading of data on the digital database of the national insect collection.
  4. Conservation, characterization, evaluation, maintenance and documentation of the national plant genetic resources (PGR) of banana, yam, cassava and aibika in field collections.  Maintenance of working collection of taro germplasm.
  5. Production and distribution of fruit and nut seedlings and grafted materials;
  6. Multiplication and distribution of planting materials of the major staple food crop species;
  7. Research/development Liaison activities including field demonstrations of developed techniques, hands-on training for farmers and service providers and participation at Agricultural Shows and other annual events.

Crop Production Studies

Drought & Frost Response Studies
In 1997, Papua New Guinea experienced a severe drought and frost, which was considered the worst ever experienced by the country. The assessment of its impact showed that crop yields was reduced by as much as 80%, resulting in severe food shortage.

The Agriculture Research Component of the completed El Nino Drought Response Project was aimed at developing a strategy to reduce the impacts of the drought and frost on food production from subsistence gardens, where over 85% of the indigenous people of the country are involved.

The four (4) main components of the Drought and Frost Response Project are:

  1. Collection, selection and multiplication of crops and farmers' cultivars and landraces that are tolerant to drought and frost.
  2. Identification and adaptation of simple soil and water management technologies including irrigation technologies
  3. Development of a warning system with contingency plan
  4. Demonstration and extension of appropriate technologies through on-farm studies and demonstrations on farmer’s fields and at agricultural shows.

The Drought and Frost Response Project was coordinated from Aiyura, with the following studies executed at Laloki:

  • Multiplication of planting materials of drought tolerant sweet potato varieties Materials are multiplied on-station for studies on testing the drought tolerant sweet potato varieties on farmer’s fields in 2005 growing season.
  • Multiplication of planting materials of early maturing sweet potato varieties Materials of early maturing sweet potato varieties are multiplied for on-farm testing in 2005
  • Multiplication of yam planting materials for on-farm Studies                     Materials of African yam and four local D.alata and D.esculenta are multiplied on-station for on-farm studies in 2005
  • Management of weather database from the automatic weather station Information and data on weather from the automatic and manual weather stations are recorded and downloaded unto a Weather Database System that is maintained at Laloki.  The records are updated weekly.

Yam Agronomy                                                                                                Yam agronomy work previously based at Bubia has been transferred to DLP Laloki.  The SPYN Project yam collection brought to Laloki from Bubia comprised of the following species and accession numbers;

            Yam species            Acc. #                         Y/species                  Acc. #

-           Dioscorea alata        182                             D. rotundata              21

-           D. esculenta              76                                D. bulbifera                8

-           D. numularia             34

Out of the 50 SPYN elite selections, 28 accessions are being multiplied up for further Agronomic evaluation.

Two promising varieties of African yam have been officially released by NARI to farmers for production.  An observed weakness of D. rotundata is that it’s tubers will go rotten if left in the ground for more than one day under flood or wet conditions.  It should be grown away from flood-prone areas.

Accessing staking materials and staking operations constitute a major component of yam production cost.  Investigations are underway to evaluate the suitability of Gliricidia and Sesbania for live-staking of yam.

The idea of producing yams on a continuous basis is being tried out through sequential plantings to see if yam can be grown all the year round under irrigated conditions.  If proven positive, this concept would greatly enhance food security and income earning opportunities for the farmers in the dry-lowland areas of the country.

Diagnosis and correction of nutritional disorders of yams                          

The ACIAR funded project on nutritional disorders of yams has ended and the final report is being written up.  The rapid decline in soil fertility and lack of “yam sticks” for staking yams were the most common constraints to yam production in the main yam growing provinces in PNG. 

Yams growing in the grassland areas of Bogia District of Madang showed some deficiency symptoms of N, P, S. Fe, Mn and Cu.  In Kiriwina of Milne Bay Province the soil fertility and staking issues were more severe than Bogia and other sites.  Yams growing in atoll soils of Kiriwina showed severe deficiencies of N, P, K, S, Fe, Mn, Cu and Zn.

Besides low soil fertility, nematode diseases in yams are becoming a problem in Bogia and much more serious in Kiriwina.  The immediate threat to yam production in Kiriwina and other atoll areas of Milne Bay is nematode followed by low soil fertility.

Planting Materials Multiplication Blocks (Sweet potato, cassava, banana and yam). Superior sweet potato, cassava, banana and yam varieties are currently being maintained in the field for distribution to farmers as planting materials.

Cassava: Five (5) high yielding superior varieties of cassava selected for planting in the dry-land areas are being multiplied for distribution to farmers.

Yam (Dioscorea rotundata): A block of African yam or rotundata yam was harvested and 100 yam tubers weighing between 1.0 to 2.5 kg were selected, cut into mini setts and germinated in the nursery and planted in the field for planting materials distribution work.

Taro (Dioscorea esculenta):  A block of 20 varieties of taro, four NARI Hybrids and 16 promising varieties collected from the Southern Region are being multiplied in the working collection at Laloki for distribution to farmers

Nursery Activities

The primary purpose of the fruits and nuts nursery is to multiply common species of fruits and nut tree seedlings for distribution and selling to farmers.  These include mangoes (different varieties), citrus (different varieties, guava, five-corners, cashew nuts and others. 

Grafting is the main propagation technique used on mangoes and citrus.  The Nursery is producing and selling the following grafted materials and seedling. 

-           Mango varieties        Glen, Irwin, Kensington apple, Large apple, Nam-dok-mai, Karabao, MA 12, Rabaul and Banana Callo

-           Citrus varieties         Naval organge, Valencia orange, Ellendale mandarin, local mandarin, troyer lime, grape fruit, kamquat and pomelo

-           Guava seedlings      Giant Vietam and Haiwaiin red

-           Other seedlings        Okari nuts, galip nuts, tamarind and carambola

Crop Protection

The crop protection component covers activities under the Fruit Fly project and studies on the red-banded caterpillar of mangoes as well as the documentation of information and data on the insect collection held at the National Insectary at Kilakila. 

Fruit Fly Project More on project information
The Project activity has been limited to area wide spray and use of protein bait spray. Other activities of damage assessment and host surveys have been completed after sufficient data was collected for analysis. Trapping activities have ceased but some are being maintained for quarantine purposes and are now under the responsibility of the National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA).

Red Banded Caterpillar of Mangoes:
This activity is carried out with assistance of the National Insect Collection – Kilakila and in collaboration with NAQIA Port Moresby, to collect infected mango fruits for the study of the Red Banded Caterpillar of mangoes. The infected fruits are being held at Kilakila laboratory and emergence of parasitoids are counted and recorded on a weekly basis. The study is continuing.

National Agricultural Insect Collection

Crop Protection activities also cover the documentation of information and data on the insect collection held at the national Insectary at Kilakila.  Current activity involves establishment of the Database for the Leptidoptera Order.

Genetic Resources

Plant Genetic Resources Field Collections

PNG is endowed with rich plant genetic resources diversity, which are the basic resources for the development of agricultural technologies.  These valuable research resources have been neglected in the past due to lack of understanding and appreciation of the values of these vital resources.  NARI has been mandated to look after the rich resources of the country by collecting, conserving, maintaining, and utilizing these resources as well as documenting any relevant information/data for these resources. 

The main activities carried out under the Plant Genetic Resources at Laloki include:

  • Conservation and management of the four national germplasm collections of banana, cassava, aibika and yams
  • Maintenance of 16 cultivars and 4 breeding lines of taro in a working collection
  • Morphological characterization and preliminary evaluation of the germplasm in the collections
  • Utilization of the promising germplasm through selections for of superior and promising materials for the farmers
  • Documentation of the PGR data and information on collections in Excel Spreadsheet files and Access Database Programme

A total of 235 accessions of bananas, 77 cassava, 72 aibika and 315 accessions of yams are being conserved and maintained in field gene-banks at Laloki.  All the germplasm collections are relocated to new sites within Laloki regularly, except banana that is relocated every two (2) years.

Morphological description has been completed for 77 cassava and 72 aibika accessions.  The national banana and yam collections have been characterized, but some descriptors including banana male buds/fruits and the under ground parts of the yam are yet to be described. 

Preliminary evaluation has been carried out on pest/diseases tolerance/resistance and the general growth habit and yield performance for some crop species.

The basic/Minimum Descriptor List for Aibika has been developed and put out as NARI Crop Descriptor List No. 1.  The Cassava Minimum Descriptor List is in press and the proposed Minimum Descriptor Lists for sweet potato, banana and yam are being developed.

Integrated Systems

The technical staff of DLP in collaboration with the agricultural staff of PNG Hope World Wide carried out a Peri-urban agriculture survey on the hillsides of Port Moresby in 2002.  The survey data has been analyzed through the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) and draft report produced.  The survey clear showed that people farming on the hillsides are mostly Eastern Highlands settlers living in and around the fringes of the National Capital District (NCD), who are from the low earning bracket group or unemployed in the formal sector. 

Most crop species cultivated on the hillsides are short duration crops including peanuts, corns, beans and sweet potato.  The results obtained from this survey served as baseline data for further research studies to be conducted on the hillsides of NCD.  A Research proposal is before NARI Research Committee for AIGF funding to undertaken studies on the different technologies developed for sloppy land areas.

Technology Transfer and Adoption

The Balthasar Wayi Information Centre at Laloki is one among the six Information Centres within NARI.  The Balthasar Wayi Centre is responsible for assembling and mass production and package of information ready for distribution to farmers and clients on requests.  It also assists in the Outreach & Liaison activities for DLP and response to requests for publications and provides library services to staff and other clients.  The NARI Agricultural Information System Database (DB Text Works) is also managed at the Centre.

For more information, contact NARI Laloki at:

Southern Regional Centre, Laloki

P.O. Box 1828


National Capital District

Ph: 328 1015/323 5511 Fax: 323 4733


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