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Richard Michael Bourke

Honorary Associate Professor, Australian National University

Dr Mike Bourke is an agricultural scientist and geographer by training. He has spent his working life (since May 1970) working in Papua New Guinea (PNG) as well as in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island nations. He is a specialist in village agriculture, food crops (particularly sweetpotato), cash income, poverty and the relationship between rural villagers, their environment and food supply. He lived and worked in PNG from 1970 to 1983 and since then has been based at The Australian National University in Canberra. He has been self employed since 1988 and has worked for many international bodies, NGOs, consulting entities, resource extracting companies as well as various government agencies in Australia, PNG and other Pacific Island countries.

Career highlights including surveying village agriculture for all PNG (over a six year period); living and working in remote villages; assessment of food supply during the major food shortages in PNG in 1997; and pioneering cave exploration in PNG in the 1970s and 1980s.

He has published extensively, mostly on PNG and other Pacific Islands agriculture, having written or edited 9 books, more than 20 technical monographs, over 200 scientific papers and 55 popular or outreach articles, as well as 16 papers on cave exploration in PNG and Australia. His most recent book is 'Food and Agriculture in Papua New Guinea' (edited with Tracy Harwood). published by ANU Epress (


  • –present
    Visiting Fellow, Australian National University


Fellow, Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology (2001); Papua New Guinea 30th Anniversary of Independence medal (awarded by Papua New Guinea for services to PNG agriculture) (2005); Offier of the Order of Logohu (Awarded by Papua New Guinea for service to PNG agricultural research, development and training