The Department of Agriculture offers a four-year course, which leads to the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSAG). Entry to the course is completion of the Grade 12 School Certificate (or equivalent) level only. The programme prepares the student for a wide variety of agricultural and agriculturally related occupations in PNG. These include teaching, research, advisory and technical positions both in government and private industry as well as in numerous other areas for which the offered courses in agriculture and related sciences are deemed essential.
About one‑third of the instructional time is devoted to study in the biological, physical and social sciences, including rural sociology and two‑thirds to the study of agriculture and agricultural sciences. The interaction between agricultural activity and the quality of environment is emphasised throughout the course.
All students enrolled in the degree programme are required to undertake field training during second and third years. Field training in second year involves working on the University Farm one day each week in both semesters; industrial training in third year is undertaken for a full semester.
The Department has concentrated research on selected food crops and small animals in the past. This is in line with the national government's shift in emphasis from plantation crops to food crops and livestock. For the last few years a research team representing different disciplines has been doing research on Rice. For the coming years, the emphasis of research will be on rice and other crops and small animals. With the expanded and coordinated research work on food crops and livestock proposed under the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), there is room for collaborative research between our staff and those of NARI and the agricultural industries.
Objectives of the research programme are:
1. To understand existing systems of production in the subsistence or traditional sector and to come up with viable production technologies that will improve the traditional production system in PNG. Such an approach entails inter-disciplinary teams.
2. Identifying problems of production and aiming for goal-orientated research for specific sites with on‑farm adaptive trials. Since the University is located in the lowlands, the Department will contribute to lowland systems in the first instance.
3. To look at intensification potential with a view to commercial production.
South Pacific Institute of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SPISARD) – Outreach Extension Activities in the Rural Community
Since 2003, activities have been initiated by this Department for the mutual benefits of the rural people, students and the staff. Villages have been selected from different agro-ecological zones as conduit points for the department’s outreach activities. These activities are being conducted by the South Pacific Institute of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SPISARD) which is the outreach extension arm of the Department of Agriculture. The goal of the SPISARD is to improve the quality of teaching and research of the University through active participation with realities of PNG rural areas. Both staff and students are involved in research, demonstrations and need-based trainings in selected the villages.
National - The Department has established links with farmers, agricultural institutes, plantations, agribusiness, provincial governments and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) in the following provinces: Central, Morobe, Madang, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Enga, East New Britain and West New Britain. MOUs have also been signed with NARI and DAL to do collaborative works.
International – International linkages have been established through MOUs followed by joint projects with some universities in Australia, the South Pacific, and the UK. These are: University of South Pacific (USP), Charles Sturt University (Australia), National Research Institute (NRI) of Greenwich University (UK), South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) of the University of Adelaide (Australia), and Canberra University (Australia).