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PNG farmers use agroforestry to fight crop diseases and reduce labor

19 / 12 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

LAE, Papua New Guinea — Across the more than 600 islands that make up Papua New Guinea, the majority of the country’s culturally diverse population relies on agriculture for both food and income. But issues ranging from global market competition for cash crops such as coffee, to a shortage of manual labor, to waves of diseases that have heavily impacted important crops, have left many communities striving to diversify and improve what they grow. To do this, farmers in both the country’s rural highlands and lowlands, where 85 percent of the population live, are leaning on a traditional subsistence practice to improve their livelihoods: agroforestry. Bokson Maru surveys his cacao crop, which is planted next to a series of gliricidia shade trees and the odd banana palm. Image by Camilo Mejia Giraldo for Mongabay. A sustainable system Already used by many communities around the world, agroforestry is seen as an increasingly important method of farming as it combines food crops and trees in a single area of land. By allowing for the production of food as well as things like timber, agroforestry can have a number of positive economic and environmental impacts. The practice supports biodiversity by mimicking natural forests, improves soil quality and diversifies the use of its nutrients, and sequesters far more carbon dioxide than monoculture crops. PNG’s traditional agroforestry is applied differently across the country and is shaped by a number of factors. These include geography, weather, tribal groups, types of crops grown, and, of course, amount of…

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