News: Social science for agriculture in PNG, August 2012

PNG participants and trainers at course run by Curtin University

PNG participants and trainers at course run by Curtin University

How do socio-cultural factors impact on the adoption rate of good farming  practices and uptake of new technologies in the cocoa, coffee and oil  palm sectors in PNG? To learn more about incorporating social science research techniques into  Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funded research projects (see Commercial/smallholder partnerships, PNG and Coffee Systems, PNG), the Crawford Fund sponsored 11 junior and middle-level research staff  from the PNG Oil Palm Research Association (PNGOPRA), the Cocoa and  Coconut Institute (CCI), and the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) to  attend a three-day training course hosted by PNGOPRA in West New Britain Province.

Participants being shown specifics

Participants being shown specifics

Curtin University researchers, Gina Koczberski, George Curry and Sean Ryan  provided training on social science research design, qualitative and  quantitative data collection techniques, analysis and interpretation,  ethics – as well as designing and managing data bases. The training  emphasised farmer-oriented approaches which value spending time with  famers and their families, involving agricultural extension officers in  the research design and data collection and encouraging a more ‘bottom-up’ methodology.

Whilst most participants were involved in collecting socio-economic data  associated with ACIAR projects, many were not familiar with the main  types of social science methods, especially the collection, coding and  analysis of qualitative data, and how to effectively combine qualitative and quantitative techniques.

Feedback from participants indicated they gained a greater appreciation of what  socio-economics research entails and feel better equipped to incorporate social science techniques and procedures into socio-economic research  projects.