Beyond the cocoa farm: A new look at farmers’ livelihoods in Papua New Guinea

William Kerua

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    1011 Downloads (Pure)


    Cocoa is the third most important cash crop of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and about one million people depend on cocoa as their main source of income. The PNG Government has invested in cocoa research, development and extension (RD&E) to improve production, but cocoa productivity remains lower than what is potentially achievable. While RD&E emphasis is on technical aspects to improve productivity, there has been little research into understanding why the cocoa farmers are doing what they are doing. This study investigates the farmer’s environment, their way of life, and their determination to produce cocoa. It also aims to explore the farmer’s livelihood and its diversification in order to understand the scope of cocoa production, and its relative priority compared to other priorities, from the farmer’s perspective. With the Agricultural based Sustainable Livelihood Framework (ASLF) as a guide, semi-structured interviews, discussions, and observations were used to study the livelihood of cocoa farmers in Morobe and East New Britain Province of PNG. Twenty one farmers and ten extension officers were interviewed with the aim of reaching a saturation point. All data were processed and analysed using NVivo software.The study indicated that land tenure and shortage, culture, traditions, livelihood diversification, and low government support were the key factors with influence on cocoa production. Whilst the RD&E system focuses on increasing production for profitable capital-based farming, farmers are entrenched within their socio-cultural practices and consider farming more as a way of life to survive. Farmers seem adverse to risk, and seek to make a reasonable income from diverse livelihood activities rather than focusing solely on more profitable cocoa production. There is a clear imbalance between farmers and their approach to farming, and the RD&E perspectives and priorities concerning cocoa production. The study developed a refined conceptual framework for livelihood studies, the ASLF, that can ideally be used by extension practitioners in future applications and interventions while concluding that a descriptive analysis of this study could later be tested empirically using a quantitative approach.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Glyde, Scott, Principal Supervisor
    • Wolfe, Ted, Advisor, External person
    • Southwell, Alison, Advisor
    Thesis sponsors
    Award date06 Nov 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 09 Nov 2017


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