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Richard Michael ('Mike')   Bourke

Associate Professor
College of Asia and the Pacific
The Australian National University (Australia)
I speak in the following language(s): Tok Pisin

Dr Mike Bourke is an agricultural scientist and geographer and is a specialist in PNG and Pacific village agriculture. He is an Honorary Associate Professor at The Australian National University and a self-employed consultant. He has been continuously involved in research, training, consulting and development work in PNG and the Pacific Islands since 1970, and lived in PNG for 13 years. He has written over 200 papers on PNG agriculture; and has written and edited 10 books on PNG and Pacific agriculture. His most recent major book is Food and Agriculture in Papua New Guinea. He has conducted fieldwork in all 85 rural districts of PNG, as well as in parts of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island countries. Since mid-2015, he has been closely involved helping to reduce the impact of the 2015 drought and frosts on food security in rural PNG.
Geographic administrative areas
Geographic places
Historical periods
21st century
20th century
The Colonial time
  • (1970 to 1988)
    Agronomic research on food crops in PNG — PNG Departmetnt of Agriculture; Australian National University
    Numerous projects on sweet potato, taro, pineapple, banana, winged bean, indigenous vegetables and other food crops.
  • Field Research (1979 to 1990)
    Altitudinal range of economic crops in PNG — PNG Department of Primary Industry; Australian National University
    The altitudinal range of 230 economic food and cash crops were defined. These results now provide baseline data as temperatures rapidly increase and crops grow at higher altitudes.
  • PhD Research (1983 to 1988)
    Variation in subsistence food supply in the PNG highlands — Australian National University
    The study sought to understand the reasons why subsistence food supply varied over time in the PNG highlands. It was conducted over a decade. The main finding was that there were two broad causes of variation over time, including food shortages: climatic extremes (excessive rainfall, drought, frost) and large changes in the planting rate by women and the quality of land that men were clearing.
  • (1990 to 1996)
    Mapping Agricultural Systems in PNG — PNG DPI; Australian National University
    Over a six year period, over 100 aspects of village agriculture in PNG was described. This was based on extensive traverses and field surveys. Land used for agriculture was classed into 342 'agricultural systems' based on aspects of food production and cash cropping. This database, known as MASP, forms the basis for subsequent analysis of sustainability of agriculture, cash income, production of staple crops, ranking of other food crops and 'relative disadvantage' (poverty).
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    Some figures...

    The database of experts counts today 1236 profiles, of which 593 are publicly accessible, while 643 have chosen to remain private.

    These persons have defined 747 unique keywords in which they situate their research interests and expertise.

    They have also defined and described 649 'experiences' (research and teaching activities, consulting work, or applied projects) in which they have contributed.