By SENIORL ANZU
Papua New Guinea women’s involvement in agricultural research gained more significance during International Women’s Day last week.
The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) gathered a group of PNG’s leading female agricultural researchers in Port Moresby to celebrate the important contribution of PNG’s women agricultural researchers to empowering rural women to end hunger and poverty.
“Women play a key role in agriculture, one of PNG’s most significant industries, supporting up to 85% of the population,” according to ACIAR.
“PNG has many talented women agricultural researchers who are delivering improvements in agricultural production and marketing.”
Among those in attendance were scientists and researchers of various research and development organisations such as the National Agricultural Research Institute, Coffee Industry Corporation, Fresh Produce Development Agency, New Britain Palm Oil and PNG Women in Agriculture.
Many of them are partners in ACIAR projects.
|Richard Marles and PNG women agriculture researchers in Port Moresby last Thursday during the International Women's Day|
Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, met with them during their gathering.
Marles highlighted that women and girls make huge contributions and with better education, they can escape poverty.
"An educated girl can make more decisions for herself, has the potential to earn money, to choose when to get married and when to have children," he said.
"She will know more about nutrition, is more likely to seek vaccinations for her children and invest in her family and community.
"All of Australia's development programmes in PNG place women at their centre, because we know that when we help girls and women fulfil their potential, their families and communities grow and prosper."
Marles said women in PNG play a critical role in agriculture and they need to take one step at a time to inspire girls to build the future for all women.
|Philmah Seta, project scientist with ACIAR vegetable project at NARI Laloki, Central province|
Meanwhile, the main strategy of ACIAR’s programme in PNG is to secure improved food supply and rural incomes for smallholder farmers.
This is being achieved by increasing productivity and profitability of farming systems, including by developing breeding strategies, integrated pest, disease, weed and nutrient strategies, and through evaluating wider industrial opportunities for products.
The ACIAR programme is also examining the role and effectiveness of women’s groups in rural industries, in terms of efficiency and equity in agricultural and marketing systems.