Environment and food production in Papua New Guinea

Mike Bourke

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    The physical environment plays a critical role in determining both where crops can be grown and how productive they are. The environment in which plants grow can be modified to some degree by people, for example, using drainage to reduce excessive soil moisture. Here the main physical environmental factors that influence crop growth in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are noted and their influence on crop distribution and productivity is reviewed. This research builds on the pioneering work of Harold Brookfield (1964) on the ecology of human settlement in New Guinea over half a century ago. The focus here is on those crops that were used in PNG before the recent adoption of numerous introduced species. Most of these new crops appeared after 1870 following sustained European contact, but sweet potato came into PNG via Southeast Asia about 300 years ago (Ballard 2005: 9; Bayliss-Smith et al. 2005: 109). Tobacco, another American plant, was present in west New Guinea about 400 years ago (Ballard 2005: 8).
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTen Thousand Years of Cultivation at Kuk Swamp in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (Terra Australis 46)
    Editors J. Golson, T. Denham, P. Hughes, P. Swadling and J. Muke
    Place of PublicationCanberra
    PublisherANU Press
    ISBN (Print)9781760461157
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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