Analysing the impact of climate change on sweet potato crops in Papua New Guinea

Root vegetables such as sweet potato, cassava, yams and taro are important crops for local consumption in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Climate change may bring threats and opportunities to the industry. There are several research questions about climate change impact and the future of sweet potato growing we can explore to inform decisions, including:

  • What is the impact of projected changes to climate envelope for growing sweet potato (e.g. temperature, rainfall)?
  • Will there be a change to pests such as the taro beetle (Papua beetle) or the rhinoceros beetle?
  • Will there be changes to fungi and diseases such as taro leaf blight?
  • What is the potential impact from extreme events such as tropical cyclones?

This case study was developed to demonstrate the Developing Climate Change Information for the Pacific guidelines. It looks at the temperature growing envelope and sets out to answer the research question: Could the growing conditions in PNG reach any important thresholds this century, and could parts of PNG become too warm for growing some crops, or could other areas where sweet potato is not grown become climatically suitable?


This case study was developed using the eight-step process outlined in the Developing Climate Change Information for the Pacific guidelines:

  1. Identify stakeholders and plan engagement – not completed in this demonstration case study
  2. Determine climate change information needs
  3. Find existing climate change information
  4. Collect observed climate data
  5. Collect and evaluate climate model data
  6. Construct climate change projections
  7. Assess climate change risk
  8. Communicate climate change information

This case study is documented in Appendix 1 of the Developing Climate Change Information for the Pacific guidelines.