PNG Traditional Vegetables Project

Project Summary

“Promoting traditional vegetable production and consumption for improved livelihoods in Papua New Guinea and northern Australia"


Increasing availability and access to traditional vegetables can improve food and nutritional security. Traditional vegetables are superior in food value to globally popular vegetables with higher essential nutrients, and historically provided a large proportion of the daily protein, vitamin and mineral intake in the village diet  in PNG.

Increased demand and consumption of traditional vegetables has the potential to contribute to higher potential incomes for growers and sellers, the majority of whom are women.


Communities in the Top End of the Northern Territory face similar problems with limited access to fresh vegetables and fruit, and an increasing shift towards energy dense store bought food.


Activities are underway to examine reasons for decline in traditional vegetables and opportunities to increase demand.


This project began in 2014 and will commence in 2018

Focus Sites:

The focus sites for project activities are in Central Province and Lae in Papua New Guinea, Bougainville Island, and Top End Australia

Project Objectives and Outputs

Objective 1: Identify and understand factors in the decline in the production and consumption of traditional vegetables in urban and rural markets of focus areas in PNG.


  • Main Teams:


Activities to examine production and consumption patterns of Traditional Vegetables include:

    • Rural and Urban Consumer Surveys
    • Institutional market surveys
    • Grower Surveys
    • Behavioural analysis of urban and rural food diaries
  • Preliminary results from data analysis indicate patterns in decline.
  • Opportunities to increase demand are already being examined as a result of the data collected

Graph: Increased consumption if aware of nutritional information. Courtesy of NARI and FPDA

Graph: Traditional Vegetables consumed in decreasing order of Preference

Compiled by NARI and FPDA

Objective 2: Identify opportunities for increasing market demand, market potential, availability and consumption of traditional vegetables in focus areas of PNG


Main Teams Involved:




Activities to identify market demand have included:

  • Mapping formal and informal supply chains
  • Working with grower groups
  • Examining bag sizes and quality of produce


Opportunities have already been identified through introducing a grading and valuing systems




Photo: Surveys conducted by NARI and FPDA

Graph: Main reasons for increasing consumption Courtesy of NARI and FPDA

Photo: Half bags for transport. Courtesy FPDA

2015 Activities

Horticultural Field Trials - CDU, NT

Photo coutrsy of Claire Webb, CDU

Objective 3: Contribute to increased production, through characterizing germ-plasm, improving production practices, , increasing availability of seed and propagation material in focus areas of PNG and Northern Australia


Obj3: Part A - Training on Seed saving methods, germ-plasm characterization, and Pest and Disease Management


Main Teams involved:





Opportunities to improve production involve training in-country trainers. The information can then be disseminated in country to other trainers and growers. Training activities that have occurred so far include:

  • 2015 - The World Vegetable Centre provided in-country training in 'Producing and Saving Seeds' to 20 key staff who could pass the knowledge on to other trainers and farmers
  • 2016 - A NARI scholar trained in germ-plasm characterization and seed saving techniques at the World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan.
  • 2016 - A NARI scholar was trained in Pest and Disease management at the World Vegetable Centre.
  • 2016-2017 - The two NARI scholars passed on training to farmers at workshops, including production, seed saving, and post-harvest techniques as well as pest and disease management.
  • Further Training Sessions are scheduled

NARI Scholar germplasm Training. AVRDC, Taiwan

Photo Courtesy of Philmah Seta-Waken, 2016

Photo: Farmers awarded certificates for training in Seed Saving and Production Methods

 Photo Courtesy of Philmah Seta Waken, NARI

Obj3: Part B - Field Trials to improve production practices


Main Teams involved:




  • Agronomy trials are in progress at NARI Laloki, PNG. 15 Varieties of Amaranth and Karakap are being examined for incidence of pest and diseases, yields, and consumer preference (Pictured)
  • A kitchen garden has been set up at 9 Miles, outside of Port Moresby to increase access of stock to local farmers (Pictured)
  • Field trials are in progress at CD Horticulture, Darwin. Data is in collection stages examining 3 varieties of aibika including yields, fertilizer rates, and consumer preference.
  • 5 urban and 2 rural schools around Darwin NT have received cuttings and growing information on aibika. Teachers are running the trials who will provide observational data.

Photo: Agronomy trials, NARI, Central Province

 Photo Courtesy of Philmah Seta Waken, NARI

Photo: 9 Mile Community Kitchen Garden

 Photo Courtesy Larsen Neayambe, World Vision

Photo: CDU Aibika Trials

 Photo Courtesy Claire Webb, CDU

Photo: Pest and Disease counts, Central Province

 Photo Courtesy of Philmah Seta Waken, NARI

Objective 4: Promote the nutritional, social and economic benefits of traditional vegetables in focus areas of PNG and Northern Australia


Main Teams involved:





Part A: Communication Tools

Marketing tools are under development to provide information about traditional vegetables which include:


  • A Grower's Guide and Recipe Book called "A Taste of PNG Greens"
    • Contains growing and nutritional information as well as traditional and adapted recipes of the focus vegetables
  • Illustrations of key traditional vegetables appealing to children
    • 7 Illustrations already designed of Winged Bean, Aibika, Rungia, Pumpkin Tips, Aupa (Amaranth), Watercress, and Pitpit
  • Brochures are being developed containing growers information, recipes and children's activities
  • Children's activities include a colouring in and a snakes and ladders game
  • An abstract and poster have been published in connection with the State of the World Plants Symposium: Seta-Waken P, Solberg S and Paul, T. 2016
  • Fact sheets, posters, and Youtube videos of Seed Saving and production methods have been released in English and PNG pidgin
    • Below are the Youtube videos for Amaranth, Karakap, and pumpkin seed.

Tok Pisin: How to Save Karakap seed

Film courtesy of the World Veg Centre and NARI

Tok Pisin: How to Save Amaranth seed

Film courtesy of the World Veg Centre and NARI

Tok Pisin: How to Save Pumpkin seed

Film courtesy of the World Veg Centre and NARI

English: How to save Karakap seed

Film courtesy of the World Veg Centre and NARI

English: How to Save Amaranth seed

Film courtesy of the World Veg Centre and NARI

English: How to Save Pumpkin seed

Film courtesy of the World Veg Centre and NARI

Colour In Activities: Aibika, Aupa, and Winged Bean

Design by Monkey Soup

Traditional Vegetables Snakes and Ladders Game

Design by Monkey Soup

Illustrations (from left to right): Winged Bean, Aibika, Rungia, Aupa (Amaranth), Watercress, Pitpit, and Pumpkin Tip

Design by Monkey Soup

Part B: Community Engagement

Promotional activities have occurred across PNG and the Top End of Australia, including:


  • Australia Week, cooking Demonstrations with World Vision, ACIAR, and NARI in Port Moresby. See video
  • Tropical Garden Spectacular, Darwin
  • Plant sales, CDU Horticulture NT
  • NARI Open Day


  • Tropical Agriculture conference, Brisbane
  • Plant Sales, CDU Horticulture NT
  • NARI Open Day
  • Farmer training in Seed Saving, Laloki PNG


  • Kitchen Garden to improve access to PNG traditional Vegetables was installed at 9 Mile, Central Province PNG
  • Territory Taste Festival - Top End- Diploma student distributed PNG plants, a trial of the Grower's Guide and Recipe, and trial fact sheets
  • NARI Open day, Lae - PNG traditional vegetables and information distributed along with promotional activities - see photo
  • Pest and Disease training of 26 Farmers from Central Province, PNG
  • Seed Production and Saving Methods training for 27 farmers from Central Province, PNG
  • April to June - Cuttings and information was distributed to rural and urban schools across Top End
  • The Plantsmith, NT, commenced propagation and distribution of Aibika around the Top End including Bunnings
  • Permaculture classes teaching how to grow some PNG traditional vegetables were run by a CDU Diploma student at selection locations in the Top End
  • Gardening Australia filmed a segment on the project at CDU Horticulture - to be released early 2018

Australia Week May 2015.

Featuring ACIAR, World Vision & NARI. Film courtesy of of EMTV.

NARI Open Day, Lae 2017

NARI and World Vision staff with students playing Traditional Vegetable Game.

Photo Courtesy Norah Omot

Territory Taste Festival, Darwin 2017

Diploma student Tanya, and Lecturer Emily.

Photo Courtesy Robyn Wing, CDU

Aibika sold at Bunnings, Darwin 2017


Photo Courtesy Claire Webb, CDU

Gardening Australia Filming at CDU, 2017

Featuring the GA Producer, Sophie, Tania Paul, Costa

Photo Courtesy Claire Webb, CDU

Coming Soon: Grower's Guide and Recipe Book


Contact: Claire Webb Charles Darwin University Project Coordinator

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