OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

A resilient agrobiodiversity food system feeding humanity in rural Papua New Guinea.

Enhancing the agrobiodiversity food production systems capacity for marginalized communities in Lake Kutubu, Papua New Guinea.

Photo of Kafuri Yaro
3 2

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Pacific, Papua New Guinea Country Programme

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Large NGO (over 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

POLICY MAKERS; i. SHP Provincial Administration Division of Commerce, Trade & Industry ii. Nipa-Kutubu District Administration iii. Department of Agriculture & Livestock iv. National Agriculture Quarantine & Inspection Authority v. Conservation & Environment Protection Authority vi. Climate Change Development Authority vii. PNG Forest Authority. RESEARCH INSTITUTES; i. PNG University of Technology, Dept. of Applied Science & Food Technology ii. National Agriculture Research Institute. PRIVATE SECTOR; i. Mountain Honey Ltd ii. PNG Biomass Ltd iii. Nature’s Own Ltd v. Niugini Fruit Company Ltd vi. Wia company Ltd vii. Oil Search Ltd viii.Exxon Mobil. CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS; i. Foe & Fasu Women’s Group ii. Kutubu VSLA Microfinance Scheme iii. Kutubu Youth Link iv. Kutubu Bird Watch & Trekking Tour Guide Group v. Lake Kutubu Wildlife Management Committee vi. Church Group, vii. IOM USAID viii. CDI Foundation x.EHP Bee Farmers Association

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Port Moresby

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Papua New Guinea

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Lake Kutubu in the Southern Highlands Province covers an area of 250km².

What country is your selected Place located in?

Papua New Guinea

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Papua New Guinea’s second Wetland of International Importance, Lake Kutubu, a Ramsar designated site is a freshwater lake, and the second largest in the country. Located in the limestone karst country of Southern Highlands Province, at 800m above sea-level, the site is one of the most important recent additions to the Ramsar List. The lake’s extraordinary level of endemicity (12 endemic fish species) exceeds that of any other lake in the New Guinea-Australian region. The Ramsar nomination has the support of indigenous landowners, who derive sustainable livelihoods from the wetlands. The site includes approximately 1,000ha of swamp forest, 4,924ha wildlife management area, and 25,000ha of water catchment areas mostly under cover of upland tropical forest. 

The oil & gas exploration and development in the 1980 to 1992  in the adjacent watersheds of  Lake Kutubu had advanced. WWF was concerned that this development would expose this pristine environment to a high risk of secondary environmental impacts. Following the USAID Biodiversity Assessment report (1992-93) recommendations, WWF established an Integrated Conservation & Development Project in the watershed to help mitigate any secondary impacts. This led to establishment of Lake Kutubu Wildlife Management Area gazettal as a protected area and Ramsar Designation in 1998. Lake Kutubu, a critical part of the larger landscape of Kikori River Basin, remains a WWF priority place for conservation development. 

WWF continues to build the capacity of local people in addressing sustainable livelihood programmes. The national event of Kutubu Kundu & Digaso Festival was initiated and hosted by  WWF and  local communities (2010) generating US$150k annually. WWF in partnership with PNG Tourism Promotion Authority is developing additional eco-tourism products linked to the festival. This proposal is part of these developments that will enhance the local community capacity in agrobiodiversity food production systems.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Lake Kutubu is situated in the center of the Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, and it is the country’s highest freshwater lake. The entire catchment and its immediate surroundings comprised of intact upland tropical rainforest resulting in exceptionally clear waters & supports wealth of  livelihood for surrounding communities.

The climate is warm & wet, with little variation throughout the year. The month of July & August are coolest period of the year. The mean annual rainfall is 4500 mm & peaks between May & October. Humidity is consistently high throughout the year.

The Foe tribe is the long-time custodians of the Lake Kutubu catchment, with an oral history dating back to time immemorial. This tribe, consisting of a mere 3000 people in 18 closely knit villages, work the land, which is passed down from father to son. They harvest a wide range of vegetables from their lands, including sweet potatoes, bananas, Chinese taro, pumpkin, leafy vegetables & sago, & supplement this with wild fruits & nuts taken from the surrounding lush tropical forests. The fish is caught from Lake Kutubu & cooked with local vegetables using fuel wood in locally designed and built stoves. Largely vegetarian, meat is only eaten on special occasions and comprises of pigs. The people here, like in many rural areas of Papua New Guinea, however suffer from the impacts of poor nutrition, which are linked to poor nutritional intake related to the traditional food systems practiced.

Recently (1990s), the communities have been exposed to rapid growth of commercial logging, mining, oil and gas developments. These industry developments meant exposure to the outside world. The negative impacts have accompanied these development aspirations. Thus, migration began to increase in 2012 when PNG Liquefied Natural Gas Project was under full construction & continues to grow. Illegal settlement along the main infrastructure & mine facilities are noticeable. Tensions between ethnic groups are slowly on the rise. Population increase is also exerting pressure on local land uses, pristine lake & catchment areas, & notable  transition effect on local culture.

Further exacerbating from climate change effect had significant toll on artisanal food production & local livelihood. Shift in dry & wet season, temperature & rainfall fluctuations affect consistent production of staple foods. Climate change induced effects such as inland flooding, pest & disease is undermining the food security, exposing risk for the vulnerable location & population.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Environment: Deforestation from industrial and subsistence land use practices have continued to degrade Lake Kutubu wetland environment & challenges livelihood dependence of the people. The influx of local people migrating for a better life, population growth, climate change impacts & related natural disasters are expected to exacerbate negative impacts by 2050.

Diets: The FAO report (1990-2012)  that Papua New Guinea (PNG) has poor nutrition, sanitation & health indicators. The child & neonatal mortality target is not achieved, anaemia prevalence represents a severe public health issue, high  among pregnant women (55%), non‐pregnant women  (36%) & under‐5 children alike (48%). These health issues are linked to high consumption of starchy food with inadequate vital nutrient element for the growth & health of women & children. This condition is crucial & remains unimproved as the  country has experienced a stalling of per‐capita GDP. This  pauses critical health issue by 2050 especially in the rural areas of PNG.

Economics: The economy of Papua New Guinea is largely underdeveloped. About 80% of the country's population relies primarily on the subsistence economy; smallholder cash cropping of coffee, cocoa, & copra.  Nipa Kutubu District’s main economy is subsistence agriculture, however, the current local economy is built around the presence of Oil & Gas development.  By 2050, it is doomed as it carries a very  high risk for stranded livelihoods, business, assets, employment & income, and ultimately a collapsed economy.

Culture: People typically rely on subsistence farming, and consume a largely starchy, vegetarian diet with limited improvement in nutritional meal.  Local culinary practices are very traditional & basic, and remain unimproved. By 2050, the government effort to provide access to improved technology, health & nutritional capacity, farming & food production systems will be limited as it continually experience stalling GDP.

Technology: Inadequate access & affordability to innovative agriculture & food production technologies have deprived 80% of rural based farmers who rely on traditional knowledge. By 2050, this is expected to continue in challenging rural farmers as the government is slow in responding to innovative technologies, for example, climate smart  agriculture & food production systems. 

Policy: There is a lack of implementation of the relevant government policies at the provincial & local level government. Farmers experience poor road and transport conditions, high freight costs, absence of block chain, poor flow of appropriate information leading to inconsistency in supply chains resulting in quality and quantity issues to markets. By 2050, this will further be exacerbated by government inability to strengthen agriculture sector investment from current revenue from Oil & Gas and mining sectors.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Environment: Review Lake Kutubu catchment management plan, & build the capacity of committee & community  members to effectively enforce wildlife management plan.

@Develop clan-based land use &natural resource management (NRM) plans & integrate agrobiodiversity food production system, ensuring less new areas are converted to subsistence farming, & prudent land use to optimize net financial & social benefits.

@Climate-smart agrobiodiversity food production system by integrating a system where trees are intercropped with food/cash crops to offset carbon dioxide, & adapt to unpredictable weather patterns, pests & disease.

@Gender inclusive awareness & education in NRM, Climate Change (CC), ensuring water catchment areas protected & forest cover improved reducing sedimentation, maintain water quality, reduce the introduction of invasive species & building community resilience to CC & natural disasters.

@Evaluate agrobiodiversity food production systems & reduce waste along various production lines. 

Diets: There is greater access to affordable local produce through agrobiodiversity food production systems, increased awareness & training for local community & health workers. Multifaceted approach enables the potential to reduce undernourishment, malnutrition, child & mother mortality, & nutrient deficiencies.. 

Economics: Rural farmers have demonstrated alternative agroindustry, especially create opportunities for access to varieties of improved crop, farming and fresh produce processing, transportation & market access allowable for earning sustainable income  & improved livelihood supporting 16,000 population. Multi-stakeholders partnerships recognised voice for farmer extension & regulation on domestic & international markets. The monetary benefit sharing, gender issues, & business competitiveness is addressed through local regulations, & cooperative policies & business plans. 

Culture: Promote organic farming in agrobiodiversity systems at household level  firstly for domestic consumption & as a means to improve family diet, health & nutrition,  influence change on customary & traditional restrictions on diets, cement  food security alternatives.  Institutionalize gender participation & create recipes incorporating local & improved food varieties in local culinary styles to complement dietary requirement.

Technology: There is greater access & availability of innovative technologies at affordable cost & time for improving food production in agrobiodiversity food production systems for rural farmers. Training & awareness in use & application of technologies, for example, energy efficient solar powered technologies for food production, processing & culinary equipment. 

Policy: Enabling conditions for the rural farmers to have a collective voice through participation at multi-stakeholder forums, dialogue events, training and awareness on cross cutting policy issues affecting food production. 

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Vision: In 2050, a sustainable and integrated agrobiodiversity food production system in Lake Kutubu is feeding humanity, ensuring resilient communities, culture, industry and economy.

Environment: Lake Kutubu is recognized & protected water catchment areas, forest cover retained, reduced invasive species, & water quality maintained. Built resilience to climate change impacts & integrated land use & NRM planning in the agrobiodiversity food production system & optimized net financial & social benefits.

Diets: Healthy population maintained; undernourishment, malnutrition, child & maternal mortality, & nutrient deficiencies reduced. The rural population & farmers have greater access to affordable local produce, training & awareness enabling improved culinary recipes & increased nutrient requirements in their daily diet.

Economic: There is viable & thriving agroindustries integrating  gender, prudent benefit sharing, & business competitiveness in agrobiodiversity food production system, & farmers have access to improved crop varieties, livestock, & market access enabling sustainable income & improved livelihoods.

Culture: While recognizing & respecting socio-cultural values & spiritual connection for local & traditional food systems,  food production in agrobiodiversity systems have improved food varieties, influenced improved family diet, health & nutrition. Had influenced change on customary & traditional restrictions on diets, cement food security alternatives, & blend innovative recipes for inspiring & exciting culinary that nourishes body & soul.

 Technology: There is greater access & availability of innovative technologies at affordable cost & time for improving food production in agrobiodiversity food production systems for rural farmers.

 Policy: The farmers have a collective voice and recognized in implementing Government of PNG 2018-2022 Medium Term Development  Plan Three (GoPNG 2018-2022 MTDP  III) & outcomes.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Goal 1: Environment:  Water, Greenhouse gases, Land use, Biodiversity, Regenerative Agriculture

Objective 1: By 2050, revised Lake Kutubu WMA management plan, develop clan-based land use & NRM plans & built the capacity of committees & have integrated climate smart, & gender inclusive approach into sustainable agrobiodiversity food production system, & contributing to the improvement of water quality, carbon dioxide offset by improved forest cover, & supporting the development of other livelihood ventures;  bird watching, tour guide trekking & beekeeping.

Key Milestones: 

1.1 Revised clan land use and NRM plans informed Lake Kutubu water catchment plan and monitoring and enforcement of socio-economic profile, land use patterns and subsistence agriculture systems.

1.2 GIS spatial analysis and 3D modelling of Lake Kutubu catchment informing rural farmers, clans who own land and local level government to make informed land use decisions.

1.3 Climate smart & gender inclusiveness have improved agrobiodiversity food production system enabled reduce new open areas for subsistence farming,  water catchment protected,  forest cover improved and reducing sedimentation, maintain water quality, reduce the introduction of invasive species, prudent land use to optimize net financial & social benefits.

1.4 Other livelihood ventures identified and developed (bee keeping, bird watch & trekking)  and integrated in agrobiodiversity food production systems. 

Goal 2: Diets; Population Growth, Malnutrition Rates, Dietary Patterns in 2050, Diet-related Disease Rates

 Objective 2: By 2050, about 80% of the population in  Lake Kutubu  have greater access to affordable local produce through improved agrobiodiversity food production systems, received awareness, education and capacity enhancement training on health & nutrition and have improved local culinary with basic recipe and taking nutrient rich food varieties in their daily diet.  Multi-stakeholder partnership enabled reduction in undernourishment, malnutrition, child and mother mortality, and nutrient deficiencies. 

Key Milestones: 

2.1 Established multi-stakeholder partnership with local government and health authorities evaluate demography and health & nutritional analysis of local dietary patterns.

2.2 Awareness education and training on healthy diet, malnutrition & lifestyle disease, and accompanied by basic capacity training and integration of recipe for improving local culinary, health and hygiene in local food systems.  

2.3 The rural farmers have received training on better farming systems, improved crop variety/germ plasm and  greater access to affordable local produce. 

Goal 3: Economics; Investments, Income Levels,  Work Force, Trade 

Objective 3: By 2050,  at least three alternative income generation and livelihood options identified and developed for rural  agroindustry, & 50% of households engaged through Department of Agriculture and Livestock providing formal recognition and voice for farmer extension and regulation on domestic and international markets. And the farmers have access to training and varieties of improved crop, farming and fresh produce processing, transportation and market access allowable for earning sustainable income  and improved livelihood supporting 16,000 population. The monetary benefit sharing, gender issues, and business competitiveness recognized and addressed through stakeholder partnership, local regulations, and farmer cooperative policies and business plans. 

Key Milestones: 

3.1 Farmer mobilization and awareness education and stakeholder engagement, partnership & networking with multi-stakeholders established.

3.2 At least three alternative livelihood income sources identified and developed for rural ago-industry. Product chain analysis & training farmers on harvesting, processing, packaging, labelling, transportation, marketing and waste management. 50% of households are engaged.

3.3 Farmers are involved in three agroindustry options at competitive market price.

3.4 Business management, good governance & farmer capacity programmes are regularly provided, and external support granted through industry association & government.

Goal 4: Culture ; Culinary Traditions, Urbanization, Spirituality, Ethics 

Objective 4: By 2050, about 80% of the farmers have improved food culture by prioritizing organic farming in agrobiodiversity systems at household level  firstly for domestic consumption and as a means to improve family diet, health and nutrition,  influence change on customary & traditional restrictions on diets, cement  food security alternatives. Farmers capacity built in improved food systems for traditional culinary practices & consumption in their daily diet. And through strengthened partnership with relevant key stakeholders the farmers are informed and respecting spiritual connections, food culture ethics, and promoting gender participation.

Key Milestones: 

4.1 Profiling local food crops and production systems, nutritional survey, culinary practices, traditional norms about food systems and diet, and blending food varieties in the recipes for integration in local diet.

4.2 Health and nutrition awareness and training and upscaling across stakeholders and different communities.

4.3 Gender streaming & respecting local food culture and promote integration.

4.4 Improved farming systems: climate smart food variety & crop production system, and blend innovative recipes for inspiring and exciting culinary that nourishes body and soul.

Goal 5: Technology; Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Biotech

Objective 5: By 2050, 80% of the farmers in Lake Kutubu have greater access and availability to affordable innovative technologies and maximizing time and energy efficiency for improving food production in agroindustry or agrobiodiversity food production systems. The farmers received training and awareness in use and application of technologies, for example, energy efficient solar powered technologies for food production, processing and culinary equipment.

Key Milestones: 

5.1 Baseline evaluation of appropriate technology, training needs and linkage to agrobiodiversity food production systems.

5.2 Farmer training & demonstration on improved food crop production utilizing appropriate technologies; crop farming/growing, rearing, harvesting, extraction, processing, packaging, transportation and marketing, waste management, & quality control.

5.3 Research, monitoring & evaluation.

Goal 6: Policy & Governance - Government Policies, Food Safety Regulations, City Mandates, Political Actors, Subsidies, Nutrition Guidelines

Objective 6: By 2050, Lake Kutubu rural farmers is formalized and strengthened to have a voice, actively engaged in policy discussions through Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Department of Commerce Trade and Industry, and leading business partnerships, networking, linking government institutions & private sectors that support farmers and facilitate domestic and international trade. 

Key Milestones: 

6.1 Formalize network of farmers through Department of Agriculture & Livestock, and established a partnership agreement with multi-stakeholders enabling networking & creation of market bond with key agroindustries.

6.2 Engaged in Policy discussions/dialogues, training, awareness and education and build farmer network and capacity building programmes.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Email

Attachments (1)

PNG Regions_Provinces.png

Map of Papua New Guinea showing regional areas and provinces. This proposal is target in the Highlands region, that is Southern Highlands Province


Join the conversation:

Photo of Leanne Demery

Hi Kafuri Yaro and team, welcome to the Food System Vision Prize community!

You have a unique Vision that is unique to PNG, and I can see the systematic effects. Before evaluation, I would encourage you to focus on telling a story or a narrative of what a day in 2050 would look like for people living around Lake Kutubu. One of the things we will be looking for is to see if the Vision is 'Visually Inspiring'.

Make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.

Here is the link to the pocket guide:

I look forward to seeing your submission finalized by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST.

View all comments