Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lower Watut cocoa farmers get small business training

Participants to the SYB training showing off their certificates.
Fifty-five cocoa farmers from 13 villages in the Lower Watut River community have successfully completed a two-week training to improve their business knowledge and management skills through a Hidden Valley mine sponsored start your business (SYB) programme last week. The SYB two-week training, facilitated by three certified Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) trainers, is aimed at helping equip the farmers and established cocoa groups in the Lower Watut region with the necessary skills to operate their cocoa businesses successfully.
The training programmes are part of Hidden Valley’s overall agriculture programme to compliment and build the capacity of local farmers.
Last year, following consultation and agreement with stakeholders, Hidden Valley engaged the services of SBDC to conduct two weekly training sessions for recipient communities under its various stakeholder community sustainable development (CSD) programmes.
Eric Ngawi, a local participant, thanked MMJV for funding the programme through SBDC, saying the training was timely and very useful as it would better equip them in the cocoa industry as well as enable them to take advantage of business opportunities that could arise from mining developments.
Huon district administrator Tony Ase, while thanking MMJV for the development programmes, challenged participants to take ownership of the training and utilise it through practice as well as to pass on the knowledge to others.
The SYB training comprises two phases: to do business awareness in analysing and understanding the local environment before deciding on business type or suitability for aspiring entrepreneurs; and to develop business plans taking into account marketing issues, business type, staffing, costing/pricing and starting capital/finance.
Wafi community affairs manager, Rolland Allbrook thanked participants and trainers for taking the time to attend the two-week training session.
“Agriculture is the backbone of this country and rightfully, your attendance is an indication of the desire to use the opportunity provided by developers such as MMJV to improve your knowledge,” he said.
“MMJV is happy to work with communities that show initiative, take ownership and are committed to improving their livelihoods, looking ahead into the future, because the mine will not be here for ever.”
Hidden Valley gold mine has also facilitated SYB training for coffee farmers in seven Biangai coffee growers’ groups, including farmers from two landowner villages of Winima and Kwembu; as well as for fish farmers under Middle Watut fish farmers’ cooperative.
To date, a total 131 participants and 25 observers have attended with more planned to follow suit.
Peter Piawu, SYB PNG programme manager, said SBDC was enjoying the partnership with MMJV, which was delivering a lot of business knowledge and skills to benefit the people on the ground that needed it.
The SYB training is internationally recognised and practised in 129 developing countries around the world.
The training is developed and certified by International Labour Organisation (ILO) and very high in material content.
According to SBDC, it has extensive training coverage throughout the country.

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