Coffee is a mainstay of the economy in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. It is grown both on larger plantations and by smallholder farmers as well, and the Wahgi Valley is one of the most heavily cultivated and settled areas in the region. Agriculture is not new to this valley: 30,000 years ago, it was home to people who were among the most advanced socio-political and farming communities on the earth at the time. Those farming methods were passed down the generations, and today descendants still employ them to grow coffee and other crops.
Ca. 1930, Mick Leahy, an Australian, was the first explorer to open the Wahgi Valley, finding that the interior of Papua New Guinea was inhabited, a fact that had long been debated. These days, neat villages, well-tended gardens and coffee plantations fill the valley, and the capital city of Mount Hagen is the third largest city in PNG, a busy “wild-west” town bustling with technology and tradition.