Sweet potatoes in Papua

Papua and West Papua form two autonomous Indonesian provinces on the western half of the island of New Guinea. Despite rich natural resources, more than 30% of  Papua’s 3.8 million people live in poverty.

Human development indicators in the region are among Indonesia’s lowest. With their traditional low status in society, indigenous women in particular affected by poverty.

Improving indigenous incomes

Oxfam works with local partners in Papua to help indigenous farming communities to improve their incomes. We provide agricultural training, and help identify new opportunities and markets for cash crops.

In all our work in the region, we strongly encourage women’s participation and leadership.

Sweet potato revolution

Oxfam and its local partner are encouraging a revival in the cultivation of the traditional sweet potato (ubi). Farmers taking part in the project are managing to improve their food security and incomes.

The project is provides seeds, training and technical support to farmers, and helps farmers to access markets beyond the local market. The farmers work together as group to make sure the project is successful and sustainable. Families are seeing an increase in their income and are managing to meet their daily needs.

 “After doing this project with Oxfam and YAPUM, I have confidence that the ubi crop will give more income and can fulfil my family's monthly costs." Sarlota Itlay

Growing better incomes

Better returns on coffee

Deep in the remote, mountainous valleys of Papua, Oxfam and its partner, PAME, train coffee growers in sustainable methods of producing high-quality, organic Arabica beans.

Indigenous Papuan coffee growers are now starting to get a fair price and a decent income from their crop.

“It is very hard working on a coffee farm. And at harvest time, growers face the biggest problem of all: finding buyers. I was so sad that farmers work hard for months, and then have to sell their products at a very low price. As well as providing training and tools, Oxfam works with us on market access, adding value to the crop and securing the best possible price for the coffee beans.” Veni Tanati, Director of PAME.

Coffee: from crop to cup

Vanilla, cacao and kiosks

Oxfam also supports vanilla and cacao farmers by providing seeds, agricultural skills training; post-harvest processing equipment and advice; business and marketing training and more.

In Paniai, we support a network of village kiosks selling household items. We provide some basic goods including soap, cooking oil and kerosene, and teach kiosk operators business and bookkeeping skills.


  • Up to 8000 Papuans increase their incomes  and are able to build sustainable livelihood opportunities
  • Women make up 60% of the coffee growers we work, bringing real improvements in the status of women
  • Farmers are producing higher quality goods, increasing their output and gaining greater access to markets
  • Women are managing incomes from sweet potato sales and use the money to pay for food and school fees
  • Coffee, vanilla and sweet potato farmers are recording income increases of 20%

Papua Factsheet

Oxfam New Zealand in Papua (PDF)