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Prospects Of Large Scale Rice Suitability Analysis In Papua New Guinea

2239 words - 9 pages

Till today rice, wheat, and corn, do not form the staple food for the vast majority of Papua New Guineans. Their carbohydrate needs are still fulfilled by sweet potato, taro, yams, sago and bananas. Agriculture began in Papua New Guinea (PNG) about 10,000 years ago as shown by archaeological research where starch was found on stone tools excavated in Kuk in western highlands. It suggested that taro was cultivated in Kuk at that time. A number of staple food crops such as banana, sago, taro, greater yam, highland and lowland pitpits etc. were domesticated by the people of New Guinea area thousands of years ago [1]. PNG with one percent of world geographical land area inhabit 5% of the world’s biodiversity [2]. Traditionally, PNG farmers have a culture of actively sustaining this prolific biodiversity through their ago old agricultural practice [3]. In the 1884 colonial period formally started when most local economies depended almost entirely on the cultivation of staple crops as the basis of their livelihood. The crops included sweet potato, taro, yams and sago and these were supplemented with bananas, sugarcane etc. The shift to cultivation appears to have become the dominant means of acquiring food by 1880s [4]. But then, unlike many countries in Asia- Pacific region, Papua New Guinea did not change its food habit appreciably with the passing time. With the progress of development of human society, the new generation Papua New Guineans are showing ostensible preference for grain crop ‘rice’ as the staple food. Here is the relevance of finding suitable rice growing areas in Papua New Guinea in order to discover its inherent potential to transcend into a rice exporting country from a rice importing country. Crop-land suitability analysis is a prerequisite to be achieved optimum utilization of the available land resources for sustainable agricultural production [5]. One of the major burning needs in this country is to improve agricultural land management and to impart suitable cropping patterns in order to increase the agricultural production with proper use of land resources. This is paramount towards augmenting agriculture’s contribution to the country’s GDP, which is below the inherent potential at present day. As indicated earlier, the bulk of the Papua New Guinea’s population relies on subsistence farming of non-cereal-grain crops such as taro, yam, banana, and sweet potato, and/or exploitation of sago palm.
The situation perpetuates PNG’s dependence on import from south-east Asian countries and Australia. Instead of her turning into a net exporter of rice by facilitating rice agriculture through identification of suitable rice growing areas, Papua New Guinea continues to be heavily dependent on rice imports (97 % of total consumption). Hence this study has been envisaged with a view to determining physical land suitability for rice using a multi-criteria decision, remote sensing and GIS approach. The aim of integrating remote sensing,...

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