PB23 Returns on labour inputs to smallholder for cash crops in Papua New Guinea

Development Policy Centre Policy Brief No. 23

By R. Michael Bourke

December 2022

Smallholders in Papua New Guinea are more likely to grow and sell a crop when they receive more income for their labour inputs. This is an important determinant of whether a crop will be produced. Smallholders produce and sell more when prices are higher and less when prices are lower.

This brief presents the rate of return on each day’s labour input for 26 crops. Figures can be updated as new price, yield or labour input data becomes available.

At current prices, the greatest returns on labour inputs come from vanilla, kava, betel nut, oil palm, some temperate climate vegetables, sweet potato, Irish potato and firewood. Balsa, nutmeg, improved cocoa, galip nut, peanuts and charcoal give a good return. Cocoa grown in the traditional manner and Arabica coffee give a moderately good return. There is a low rate of return for turmeric, cashew, Robusta coffee, rubber, cardamon, pepper, copra, rice and patchouli.

Other factors which influence smallholder engagement with cash cropping include gender, the level of activity in the indigenous exchange economy and changes in technology which may improve the returns that growers receive.

The data presented in Table 1 in this policy brief is available in an Excel spreadsheet.

Bourke, R.M., 2022, ‘Returns on labour inputs to smallholder for cash crops in Papua New Guinea’, Policy Brief No. 23, Development Policy Centre, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra.

Karen Downing

Karen Downing is Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.