Short-rotation coppice agroforestry for charcoal small business in Papua New Guineawca2014-1066 Ian Nuberg 1,* 1School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
Fuelwood is an integral part of the Papua New Guinea domestic economy with consumption estimated at 1.8m3/person/year. Fuelwood stress in many districts is evident by high prices and conflict generated by competition for gathered fuelwood. This paper describes 3 related activities to develop small businesses based on short-rotation coppicing (SRC) agroforestry systems. These activities were: 1] Survey of domestic fuelwood consumers and vendors (n = 4,122) in fuelwood-stressed districts in urban and rural areas of lowlands and highlands; 2] Field trials of 10 candidate SRC species, at 2 spacings, in 2-3 year rotations. Measurements included wood volume after 2 years, coppice vigor, burning characteristics, and market acceptance; 3] Facilitating the establishment of SRC-grown charcoal businesses.
The survey found the fuelwood economy has a very short, direct supply chain in a completely informal environment. The paper summarises dimensions of the fuelwood economy illustrating the great opportunity to create a fuelwood supply chain that could deliver sustainably harvested and value-added fuelwood to consumers, especially in urban areas and the commercial sector.
The SRC systems appealed to landholders because they could intercrop vegetables in the first year and had the option of carrying over some trees to grow on to poles. The best woodlot species were Eucalyptus grandis for the highlands and E.tereticornis for the lowlands. Calliandra calothrysus is a suitable SRC species for alley systems in highland gardens. In the highlands SRC firewood and charcoal production yield higher estimated returns to labour (43 and 24 Kina/person/day (20-11 $US)) compared with main alternative crops of sweet potato and coffee (21 and 15 Kina/person/day respectively). As SRC-grown wood appears different to normal wood for sale, there may be resistance in the market. So we facilitated the establishment of charcoal producer groups in Mt Hagen and Lae.