Our diverse range of projects span Asia-Pacific and Africa.



South Gobi Cashmere Program, Mongolia


South Gobi, Mongolia


Product: Cashmere

Program phase: Research

Key program partners: Oyu Tolgoi, Kering, Wildlife Conservation Society

Year completed: 2020



Over the past 20 years the number of goats in Mongolia has increased fourfold, driven predominantly by market demand as the fibre has become more accessible to a growing middle class. This increase in demand, coupled with unregulated pasture management has led to increasing desertification of the South Gobi region. The South Gobi Cashmere (SGC) team is working to restore the degraded ecosystem and drive environmental, economic and social sustainability in the cashmere sector.

One cashmere goat yields approximately 300g of raw cashmere. At an average price of US$35 per kg, it is easy to calculate how many goats are required to earn a decent living for herders in Mongolia. Herders are constrained on how they can make a livelihood, with majority relying on cashmere goats, and access to most of their income only coming once when they sell their cashmere. 

Work was required to understand the depth of the economic struggle of herders, and what strategies could be put in place to reduce the cyclical nature of their income and reduce their exposure to risk.

If the economic and social aspects of the program are not addressed, it is unlikely that the herders would reduce the number of goats they owned, which is one of the key causes of desertification of the South Gobi region.  


Business for Development was asked to support the SGC team and develop economic and social strategies to improve herder livelihoods. The following activities were undertaken:

  • Desktop analysis of the SGC value chain and operating environment, including hypothesis development on how to improve economic opportunities and reduce risk for herders.

  • Herder household economic survey and analysis, complementing insights drawn out through the desktop analysis.

  • In-country field workshops to validate the hypotheses formed by meeting key stakeholders, including herders, processors and service providers.


Recommendations were provided on key strategies to improve goat herd management, increase the quality of cashmere, and ensure a solid foundation for the future development and long-term independence of SGC as a standalone legal entity protecting the herders’ interests. The following priority areas were identified as key enablers for the entire SGC program of work:

  • Targeted, multi-channel communications strategy to better inform herders of goat management practices to improve quality of cashmere. 

  • Build the capacity of the co-operative to meet herder requirements and expand membership.

  • Utilise data and metrics to enable better economic and environment decision making.



Morobe Coffee, PNG


Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea


Product: Coffee

Program phase: Field trials

Key program partners: Harmony Gold, Outspan PNG, Coffee Industry Corporation

Year completed: 2019

Hidden Valley Coffee


Harmony Gold’s Hidden Valley mine, situated in Morobe Province, PNG, will close in the coming years. With about 2,100 people either directly or indirectly employed by the mine, most from the region, the economic impact will be significant.

Apart from artisanal mining and farming, there are not many economic opportunities for the Morobe community. With farming in the region being predominantly subsistent, rates of extreme poverty are high. To address this cycle of poverty, stronger links to market with a viable commercial commodity was required.   


The Options Study conducted by Busines for Development at the end of 2017 revealed coffee was a viable agronomic avenue to pursue for the communities near the mine as many farmers had been growing coffee for many years. However, with poor agronomic practices, poor road infrastructure to markets, and a long, fragmented value chain, farmers were receiving little revenue for their efforts. An overhaul of the coffee value chain was required to improve profitability for the farmers.

Business for Development executed a field trial focusing on reinvigorating the local coffee industry and improving livelihood opportunities. The trials started with three communities near the Hidden Valley mine. The following activities were undertaken:  

  • Rehabilitated old coffee trees and training in good agricultural practices to improve quality and yields.

  • Upgraded equipment such as pulpers and building raised drying tables.

  • Developed a market linkage with a strong buyer and working together to improve quality, collection and logistics post-harvest.

  • Established bank accounts for farmers to facilitate safer, direct payment. 


  • Farmers near Harmony Gold’s mine are now on the path to reaping higher returns from farming coffee, with an increase in returns by 26%. 

  • Farmers can now produce better quality parchment thanks to skills and capability development training for 105 farmers in coffee production, harvest, processing, and equipment construction.  

  • Improved farmer co-ordination, collaboration, organisation and quality checks within villages as farmers worked collectively to mobilise coffee for transport and sale.

  • Reduction in risk for both farmers and buyers with the establishment of bank accounts and direct payment into those accounts.


Private Sector Agribusiness Landscape Analysis, Myanmar





Product: Rice and Pulses

Program type: Research

Key program partners: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Year completed: 2019


Myanmar is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Agriculture is a core driver of Myanmar’s economy, contributing approximately 35% to GDP and employing 70% of the country’s labour force. As agriculture is the leading employer in the economy, ACIAR’s role in research-for-development is filled with opportunity and potential for supporting broader reforms.

Myanmar is one of the largest producers and exporter of rice and pulses. Despite its potential for growth, the agriculture sector persistently experiences insufficient investment in research, extension, technology transfer, infrastructure development, value-chain upgrading and marketing.

The challenge for ACIAR was to better understand and assess the agribusiness landscape to identify constraints and opportunities for inclusive market development for these two commodities.  


Business for Development, in partnership with Rogers MacJohn, was commissioned by ACIAR to undertake an analysis of Myanmar’s agribusiness landscape and develop an analytical framework to identify opportunities for inclusive agribusiness-led development.

A combination of desk research and stakeholder interviews across public, private, and social sectors were used to identify priority areas for research and investment, based on the greatest reach and impact potential for smallholder farmers.

  • 88 stakeholders were interviewed from the public, private and social sectors to provide insights on the priority constraints and opportunities within the rice and pulse sectors.

  • A private sector perception survey and a CEO survey canvassing 135 investors provided an understanding of the business environment, the investment criteria important to the private sector and the relative ease of doing business in Myanmar.

  • An analytical framework was developed, taking a systemic approach to rice and pulse value chains in Myanmar to identify key constraints to inclusive agribusiness-led investment.


  • A set of recommendations were provided, focused on holistic solutions taking into account the entire value chain, as well as the critical interdependencies between the public and private sectors.

  • One of the top recommendations for pulses was a market development analysis as a precursor to other value chain interventions. Business for Development has been re-engaged by ACIAR to take forward this work.


Ironbark Citrus, Laos



Vilabouly, Laos


Product: Citrus

Program phase: Sustained

Key program partners: Ironbark Citrus,

Minerals and Metals Group (MMG)

Year completed: 2017


With MMG’s Sepon mine looking to close in the coming years, the MMG Community Development team was seeking to build a diverse sustainable economy beyond those linked to the mines’ operation.

Many farmers in the region struggled to grow sufficient rice - a staple food - to feed their families. Growing citrus, a high value crop, was seen as a way to provide farmers with a basis to sustainably exit poverty, netting a tenfold increase in income over traditional crops.


Ironbark Citrus, a Queensland based citrus producing company, was seeking a region in Asia that could be counter seasonal to their Australian citrus production. Laos was a perfect location.

​Business for Development worked with Ironbark Citrus and MMG to establish a revolving fund that provided credit to new farmers and used the repayments to allow new farmers to enter the program. Each family was asked to provide a small deposit, to demonstrate commitment to the program.

In 2015 to kickstart the establishment of a citrus farm in Laos 20,000 seeds were planted in Ironbark Laos’ nursery. The business recruited 50 families in 2015, each receiving 100 trees. A revolving fund was initiated with $30,000 to fund this initial cohort. The fund was designed to appreciate in value, enabling more farmers to purchase required inputs and become citrus farmers.


Over time a social enterprise was established by Ironbark Citrus called Ironbark (Laos) Sole Co Ltd. The Laos business is beginning to successfully export citrus across Asia.


Ok Tedi Development Foundation, PNG





Product: Rubber, Rice, Eaglewood

Program phase: Sustained

Key program partners: Ok Tedi Development Foundation’s (OTDF)

Year completed: 2018


Ok Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF) is the legal entity that manages community development benefits from the Ok Tedi mine on behalf of the 147,000 Lake Murray and Fly River residents. These communities occupy 158 villages throughout the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) corridor in Western Province, PNG.

OTDF’s long-term vision is to “ensure the self-sustainability of and to improve the quality of life of Western Province communities”. Western Province is PNG’s largest province by area yet also one of the least developed. Given its remote nature and lack of access to resources, agricultural development is seen as one of the most powerful tools to end extreme poverty, boost shared prosperity, and improve food security for the region.


Business for Development worked with the OTDF to develop and execute a number of strategies:

  • Rubber trees had previously been established in the region, but with a boat visiting annually for rubber collection, cashflow and income was insufficient for farmers. Business for Development established a partnership between OTDF and OLAM, a commodities trader, improving logistics and enabling more frequent collections of sap (or cup lump), allowing farmers to tap the rubber more often and earn a decent income.

  • A partnership was developed with Trukai Industries in 2017 to develop commercial rice trials in four villages. The trials reviewed several varieties of rice to determine the most suitable alternatives in three regions of Western Province.

  • Eaglewood – dark resinous wood used in incense and perfume production – was researched as a potential option for OTDF. Although a high value crop, it takes approximately 20 years to mature. Business models were developed on how rubber and rice could provide income until the eaglewood was productive.  


By working together, the following was achieved:

  • In 2018, a total of 82,020 kgs of raw cup lump was bought and exported by OLAM in Singapore, with a further 47,743 kgs collected in 2019. Collectively, a total of 208 growers from 66 villages benefited from the PGK68,900 paid for the cup lump in 2018.

  • As a result of the rice trials, a 40ha commercial rice operation at Kaviananga in the Middle Fly has been developed.

  • The eaglewood review gave OTDF the confidence to invest in the crop, and in 2018, 172,079 seedlings were distributed to 5,608 growers across 96 CMCA villages.  


In 2018, OTDF developed the WestAgro Development Plan, which saw the OTDF Board allocate PGK38.1 million from the CMCA to establish three initial Agro Industrial Centre’s – farmer services and commercial nucleus hubs supporting communities to drive long-term economic growth.


Golden Futures for Agriculture, The Philippines


Didipio, The Philippines



Product: Coffee

Program phase: Field trials

Key program partners: OceanaGold, Agriculture Departments of Kasibu and Nueva Vizcaya

Year completed: 2019


Farmers living in the Kasibu municipality of the Philippines are among the lowest paid workers of the region, with an average monthly wage of AU$100. Small land ownership (0.5 to 1 ha) limits income earning potential and there is a high dependence on dry months to grow and sell food – usually six months of the year.


The program involved establishing a community-owned coffee production enterprise, to generate income earning opportunities and ensure food security for the community. A coffee field trial was completed by Business for Development involving 95 smallholder farmers. Activities included providing farmers with access to quality seedlings and fertiliser, as well as training and extension support.


  • The program triggered the foundation for a long-term sustainable coffee industry in the Kasibu municipality.

  • Provided the farmers opportunity in crop diversification that was linked to a strong external market and income opportunity.

  • Provided a point of focus for the region in gaining external and government support, which is aligned with the National Development Goals of the Philippines. 

  • Provided OceanaGold with a tangible impact in agricultural development in the Kasibu region.