Introducing galip into new system

Nari, Normal

The National, Tuesday June 23rd, 2015

 By Matthew Poienou

THE National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is currently conducting research to understand the effects of integrating galip into cocoa and food cropping systems.  

While this is not a new system to farmers, research needs to establish the relationships and the effects and determine the optimum cropping patterns, cropping densities, crop combinations, sustainability and economics of such cropping system. 

The growth characteristics of the galip tree make it an ideal shade tree for use in an integrated agriculture production system.  

Galip has a deep root system and unlike coconut does not compete for nutrients with foods crops which are mostly shallow rooted.

The galip tree produces massive leaf litter that minimises weed growth and retains soil moisture and organic matter. This provides an environment for conducive microbial activities, nutrient recycling and improves soil structure for next cropping season.

NARI and the World Bank Funded Productive Partnership in Agriculture Project (PPAP) under its cocoa component is currently promoting galip as an alternative shade tree for cocoa. 

There are several reasons for taking this approach. 

Firstly, galip has been introduced into the cocoa system as an additional cash crop and not to replace cocoa. 

Secondly, it has been promoted as a cost saving measure for cocoa management. With the presence of the Cocoa Pod Borer cocoa production system has become very intensive. 

Cocoa farmers have to spend every day in their cocoa blocks if they want to make money from cocoa. 

Maintenance of the blocks include pruning cocoa trees, pest and diseases control, pruning shade trees,  clearing undergrowth and finding labour for harvest. 

About 10 per cent of cocoa block management is spent on cocoa shade tree management. 

The main tree currently used for shade is glyricidia.  

Galip when used as shade will remove this burden as it requires very little management input and become a permanent shade for up to 30 or more years. During this time cocoa can be cut down and replanted several times without having to worry about shade while galip with its high value timber can be harvested at 30 years as export quality logs. 

Thirdly, integrating food and cash crop is becoming very common since the plantation sector collapsed. Farmers have realised that in times of lower world market prices, they can sustain their livelihood by earning income from other crops. 

Integrating galip into the existing cash crop farming systems will enable the farmers to maximise higher output from limited land, labour and technical inputs. 

For example, in East New Britain, the cocoa is planted in a mix system with other food crops during the establishment phase such as banana, leafy greens and fruit trees. 

Perennial banana and the leafy greens are reserved food for days where quality food supplies are low. 

Planting several crops also reduces the risk of losing everything due to outbreak of pest and disease which are being experienced more frequently these days. 

Papua New Guineans have for generations farmed with biological diversity, conservation and ecological stability in mind. 

However, growing cash crops have become a monoculture. It is now evident that the monoculture system (plantation) has collapsed while the integrated production system has survived, meaning that we need to put resources into improving this system which 85 per cent of PNG’s population depend on.

The integrated production system maintains genetic diversity between and amongst species which also acts as a protective buffer from adverse pest and diseases and climatic conditions. 

There are beneficial effects of such cropping system and NARI is undertaking this research to document and share the results.