The Science and Technology Branch is a key technical division for the PNG agriculture sector. Its major function is to provide technical, policy advisory and information services; based on agricultural science and innovations, and practically proven technologies; in the fields of food and cash crops, organic certification, climate change, and land use and land capability to the agriculture sector.
The branch’s role also captures developments in:
- new dimensions of codex food standard and safety developments with biotechnology; innovations to support and strengthen food security upscale;
- national biofuel collaboration with relevant stakeholders for cleaner environment; and sustainable climate, lowering CO2 emissions and pollution reduction initiatives.
Major Functional Activities
A. Administration and Coordination
Under Management and Coordination, the branch provides administration of staff and program activities. The management (Director) provides regular reports, briefs and advice to the Top Management and other agencies on matters relating to agriculture development, policies and plans in the country.
B1. Land Utilization and Climate Change
The Land Utilization and Climate Change provides collaboration participation by stakeholders including private sector and NGO and soils, land resource and information necessary for agriculture development to all land users and developers [check this sentence??]. Information is generated from land resource surveys (water, soils, climate, topography, etc) or from natural resources, and farming system socio-economic databases such as the Papua New Guinea Resource Information (PNGRIS) and Agriculture Farming System Mapping (MASP).
- Climate Change including Soils, Land Resource Surveys, Land and Water Management and Agro Forestry Land Use Planning;
- Cartography Unit to electronic system.
B2. PNG Resources Information System and Mapping
The Papua New Guinea Resource Information System (PNGRIS) is supported by the Geography Information System and Remote Sensing to strengthen the PNGRIS to deliver quality land evaluating profiles to agriculture and livestock development of land utilization sector including development of district land profiles and strengthen linkages to DAL Regional PISS offices.
C. Agro-Food Safety and CODEX PNG
The Codex PNG Secretarial Unit provides science-base decision making the linked innovations to stakeholders involved in the export/import and standard development that enables smooth exportation of quality high grade food staff. It links, collaborate and coordinate with international agencies including Codex Alimentarius Commission, various professional international vertical and horizontal codex committees, in-country base relevant stakeholders, informal and formal private sector through DAL Regional PISS offices. This section is setup where the office of Codex Contact Point is based; hence the policy and coordination must be executed well to traders to regulate using Codex Standards for export.
Codex PNG issues regarding the farm level food standard and safety that relate to trade, food safety, consumer and health.
E. Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Coordination and Collaboration
The National Policy for Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Compliance is with DAL as mandated Agency oversee the operations of relevant sectors who are dealing with Animals and Plants that include departments, commodities, private sector, academia, traders, standard developers and funding bodies. The enquiry point is also with DAL.
F. Biotechnology Information, Coordination and Collaboration
The Biotechnology as a function provides technical information coordination on animal and plant to strengthen the upscale of Food Security Program in the country. This section will collaboration and coordination on policy matter on biotechnology new innovations that are developed in the international science organizations and deliver that information to DAL Regional PISS offices including interested private organizations, stakeholders and NGOs.
Biotechnology policy coordination with biosafety issues to agriculture plant, weeds soil and environment including the food security expansion to upscale;
Codex PNG issues regarding the farm level food standard and safety that relate to trade, food safety, consumer and health;
G. Organic Certification Coordination and Collaboration Networking
The Organic Certification unit will do policy coordination duty with the relevant stakeholders, including Foreign Affairs and Trade; Commerce and Industry; NAQIA, and DAL Regional PISS offices and Exporters. The duties will allow liaising with relevant international and regional organizations including Sub-Regional and Regional FAO; SPC Organic Certification organizations.
H. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Coordination and Collaboration
The IAEA agriculture coordination and collaboration is done from DAL for two projects currently running:
- Cocoa Pod Borer parked at Cocoa Board;
- The Establishment, Implementation, Expansion of Integrated Approach Activities for Genetic characterization and selection for enhanced reproductive performance and improved productivity of Cattle and Pig with better Feeding is parked at PNG University of Environment and Natural Resources
I. Technical Services
I1. Biofuel Linkages
The Biofuel Unit will provide the advisory and coordination role on improvement to energy security, decreasing vehicle contribution to air pollution and reducing or even eliminating greenhouse gas emissions are primary goals compelling government to identify and commercialize alternatives to petroleum fuels currently. This section will coordinate and link to cassava, coconut, jethropha plant and sago development projects and work with the DAL Regional PISS offices including PNGBioNET, CEPA, NARI, NAQIA, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Commerce and Industry, Universities, Private Sector and NGOs.
I2. Taro and Mushroom Development
Taro has been cultivated as a food crop for 3 000 years in the pacific region. The crop is cultivated as lowland taro in the Philippines, Hawaii, Asian and other Pacific countries. In Papua New Guinea it is cultivated under un-irrigated conditions, although irrigated taro has been recorded from a number of areas.
The classification of common aroids to which taro belongs to is:
Genera: Alocasia, Caladium, Colocasia, and Xanthosoma.
Genus: Colocasia is said to contain five species in the Asian tropics but seven species, two of them edible, have been reported as native in Indochina. The use of the common name “taro” should be applied to the tuber-producing species of the genus Colocasia.
Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) Policy Collaboration and Coordination with Stakeholders.
Science of Taro as a Traditional Crop
The science nature of Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is one of five traditional staple food crops in Papua New Guinea. It is most important in forest area, especially in the lowlands where rainfall is well distributed throughout the year, but it is also grown as a minor food in highlands areas up to more than 2000m above sea level. Taro is the most important staple food in the Solomon Islands and many other Pacific Islands. The importance of the crop may be seen in the significant place accorded to taro in the legend and ceremony of the taro growers in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific islands. For instance certain varieties were restricted to big men or leaders.
Related edible species, most of which are emergency foodstuff, include Alocasia macrorrhiza (paragum), Cyrtosperma chamissonis (swamp taro), Xanthosoma sagittifolium (Chinese taro or taro kongkong) and Amorphophallus campanulatus (wild taro). Cyrtosperma is a staple food on some coral atolls where it is difficult to grow other food crops. Xanthosoma is becoming more popular in places where people can no longer grow enough Colocasia for their needs.
Almost the entire taro in Papua New Guinea is grown on a subsistence level. The importance of the crop has not been fully realized or appreciated because not very much taro is found in the market and little marketing exists on a large and international scale.
Taro is generally cultivated in forest clearings without the use of irrigation, chemical pest and disease control or fertilizers.
Yield could be increased with the introduction of better varieties, use of fertilizer, better weed control, disease and pest control and adoption of improved cultural practices.
In Papua New Guinea Mushroom has been part of our diet as food even before we understood the nutritional and medicinal value of it. The Popularity due to the knowledge of its nutritional value and medicinal properties. We have mushrooms that are edible and non-edible (poisonous). Mushroom grows anywhere and wild in forest on logs, tree stumps and even on lawns and fields including sago pulp wastes.
What is a Mushroom
It is a macro-fungus with a distinctive fruiting body which can be either epigeous (growing above ground) or hypogenous (growing underground). Mushroom grows from spores (as seeds are for plants). Mushroom seed is called spawn (planting material).
The High Value of Mushroom
The edible mushrooms have high in protein. (NB: Protein is one of the most important nutrients in mushroom food.) Mushrooms contain all the essential amino acids. They are rich in lysine and leucine – amino acids which are in few quantities or absent in the majority of the cereal used daily. Mushrooms have high vitamin content and are good sources of minerals. Mushrooms have relatively low levels of total fats and Mushrooms have high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acid. It can be grown anywhere as long as the conditions for their growth and cultivation are met and is considered as hedge against famine and a possible cancer cure. There is an enormous potential for feeding 3rd world countries and with high cash income and as said it is the alternative protein source to meat.
Where to grow Mushroom
- Grasses – Grasses that are dried, threshed, packed in polypropylene bags and sterilized.
- Under banana crops using old banana leaves
- Agriculture wastes – organic substrates (waste from farms, plantations and factories)
- Sago pulp waste
- Food and medicine for everybody
Anybody can grow mushroom as long as they have
- the proper technology
– New ways of cultivating
- proper substrate
- planting material called spaw
- Spawn is like seed to crop. Unlike spore, spawn is already at its mycelial stage growing on its substrate
- Substrate is material on which mushrooms grow on.
- Environment control of temperature, humidity light and ventilation are important for mushroom growth (because not protected by skin layer).
Pests and Diseases
Other Potential Science based Technical Collaborative Functional Duties including:
- Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) Conservation, Environment Protection Authority (CEPA);
- Health issues including Tobacco Control National Food Safety Collaboration with Health;
- Food Sanitation Council Collaboration;
- Biosecurity with NAQIA, IPPC with NAQIA Collaborative work;
- OIE (Animal Health) with NAQIA;
- Collaborative work and Veterinary and livestock diseases Collaboration.