Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The strength of women farmers in Papua New Guinea

A recently-completed survey conducted under the project ‘Improving Business Acumen for PNG Women Smallholders In Horticulture’ has unearthed some very enterprising women who have quietly been producing and marketing some of the country’s best local fruit, vegetables and niche products.

Marey Yogiyo displays a sample of her Bauka packaged coffee.-Pictures by CATHY MCGOWAN
Many of them have been growing and processing these foods under the radar with little support other than that of their family members in order to meet their immediate needs.
Some of these enterprising women found in the Central province are growing the juiciest water melons in that part of the region; in Morobe they are raising sheep for wool and keeping bees for honey; and in the highlands these women are flooding the markets with temperate cut flowers and growing, training and supplying African yam seeds and packaging home-grown organic coffee for export.
Maria Linibi and Cathy McGowan visits bilum sellers of Goroka town and urge them to join the PNGWiADF network

These women came together from their respective regions to participate in a survey conducted by Cathy McGowan and Val Lang from the Australian Women in Agriculture to map out the membership of women’s peak agriculture body in the country, the Papua New Guinea Women in Agricultural Development Foundation (PNGWiADF), to determine the organisation’s current institutional arrangements and the women’s expectations of the organisation, identify governance issues affecting PNGWiADF and the support they need from the organisation.

Members of registered groups represented in the Eastern Highlands Women in Agriculture with members of the survey team
McGowan and Lang were assisted by project partners, Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) and National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
PNGWiADF President Maria Linibi facilitated the survey of various groups.
A report of this activity will be put together by McGowan to present to the project leader, Prof Barbara Chambers from the University of Canberra to submit to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), who funded the project.

Specialist African yam grower Jennifa Kena displays some of the yams she presented as gifts to new members of EHWiA
Over 20 registered groups, 10 individual members and hordes of interested women and men attended and participated in the survey, expressing their personal experiences and recommending ways PNGWiADF can best serve their interest to promote locally-grown foods and vegetables, flowers and tree crops.
Most of the women farmers said good communication systems, training, access to markets and credit facilities were a major hindrance to their success.

Meeting members in the Central province
For instance, Julie Anton travelled from Mt Wilhelm to Goroka to participate, hoping that PNGWiADF would network her to a market for her highlands orchids.
Another woman from Garaina in the south of Morobe province walked for nearly a week to reach members of her group from Bulolo district, then travelled together to Lae to participate in the survey; she was determined to actively participate and express her group’s need to be trained to grow quality vegetables to be able to tap into a ready growing market in their area, the mining townships of Bulolo and Wau.
Budding entrepreneur Marey Yogiyo attended the gathering in Goroka as an interested coffee farmer but with the burning desire to encourage other coffee farmers to drink their own coffee.
Yogiyo and her family grow organic coffee in the Aiyura Valley of Eastern Highlands and process and package it for sale in retail shops.
Since it is a new brand, the Bauka Blue Kofi is up against the established brands such as the Kongo Coffee, Goroka Coffee Roasters and Sigri Coffee.
So far she has secured Bintangor Trading in Goroka to sell her product.
These women are a few finds from the survey and there are more to be discovered.
The survey team was pleased with the information collected so far which will go a long way in identifying strategies to address women’s issues and to make them equal partners in agricultural development.
As part of the report, the survey team will recommend to the project initiators a capacity training that will address an area that has been raised by various groups.
The onus will be on PNGWiADF to use the information to be responsive to the needs of women and continue to raise their issues to the various pillars of government as the national mouthpiece of women food producers.
A full report of the survey will be available in May.

1 comment:

  1. wendalls0312@gmail.com7:54 PM

    Thanks for this info, my mother's people are Buang, good coffee and fruit and vegies region.