The Mama Lus Frut scheme was established to increase the productivity of smallholder palm-oil plantations in Papua New Guinea. ACIAR project ASEM/1999/084, ‘Improving Productivity of the Smallholder Oil Palm Sector in Papua New Guinea: a Study of Biophysical and Socioeconomic Interactions’, included an assessment of the impact of the Mama Lus Frut scheme. The ACIAR project was also involved in refining and extending the scheme both geographically and demographically, including extending it from women family members to the community at large. This report describes the effect of the scheme (and therefore indirectly the effect of the ACIAR project) on reducing poverty for smallholder oil-palm producers. It draws upon information from a socioeconomic study of oilpalm schemes in Papua New Guinea (Koczberski et al. 2001) and figures provided by George Curry of Curtin University of Technology, Bentley, Western Australia. A high rate of fruit wastage was endemic in the oil-palm industry before the scheme, as fruit that fell from the main bunches was left on the ground to rot. Collecting loose fruit is considered women’s work. The returns from the sale of the fruit collected would be recorded on the man of the household’s payment card (now known as the ‘papa card’); the woman of the house would often not receive any money from the fruit she harvested. Thus, women preferred to spend their time growing vegetables and selling these at the market, where they could keep the returns of their labour. The result of this is that there was no incentive for anyone to collect and sell the loose fruit. It should be noted that there are two classifications of smallholders involved in the scheme: Land Settlement Scheme smallholders and Village Oil Palm smallholders. The region of Hoskins primarily consists of Land Settlement Scheme lots, while Popondetta contains mainly Village Oil Palm smallholders. The demographics of the two schemes tend to differ in some aspects. This report concentrates primarily on Land Settlement Scheme smallholders in the Hoskins area on the New Guinea Islands.


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