By LEO WAFIWA
COFFEE Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (CIC-PPAP) is making a significant contribution to professional skills development in Papua New Guinea’s agriculture sector.
The project is employing recent graduates from agricultural colleges and universities through 36 partnerships which are involved in coffee rehabilitation activities in 10 of the 16 coffee-growing provinces.
The project is also enhancing cross learning between graduates and locals from coffee-growing communities. This partnership is helping officers to use local knowledge to help rural farmers.
Project manager Potaisa Hombunaka says that all officers – graduates and locals – often come together for training.
“The lessons learnt are guiding us through,” he said.
“The focus here is to improve the delivery of agriculture services, especially extension services, right down to the farmers in the communities.
“We can’t continue to do things the same way and expect different results. This is why PPAP coffee continues to identify solutions as a way forward for better outcomes.”
The intervention is an employment opportunity for agricultural graduates and community service providers who have had no formal employment.
Friday, August 25, was a special day for David Haira and Joseph David, villagers from the Okapa and Obura-Wonenara districts of Eastern Highlands, when they travelled to Goroka to open a bank account – for the first time – with Bank South Pacific.
Haira and David are community-based service providers for lead partner Outspan PNG. Now they can have their pay paid into their bank account.
Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project coffee started in June 2011. To date the project – through its partnerships – has employed 413 officers as project coordinators, extension officers, field assistants, data entry clerks and community service providers. These officers are working in Eastern Highlands, Simbu, Jiwaka, Western Highlands, Enga, Southern Highlands, Morobe, Madang, East New Britain and East Sepik .
Hombunaka said that initially there were 297 officers employed by 19 partnerships. Seven of those were women. Now there are 37 women employed, many of whom are extension officers and field assistants.
The 36 private-sector partnerships supporting coffee development work are coffee processing and exporting firms, non-governmental organisations and church groups. Some of those partnerships are Community Development Agency (CDA) Goroka, Outspan PNG Ltd, Hatavile Coffee Ltd, CDA Gumini, Tribal Aromas Ltd, Wapenamanda Coffee Factory Ltd, Wabag Catholic Diocese, Kori Coffee Ltd, Anglican Church of PNG Diocese of Aipo Rong (Simbai and Kovon LLG in Middle Ramu, Madang and Lower Jimi in Jiwaka), Wia Trade Enterprise Ltd, New Britain Resource Development Ltd, and Weni and Mandol Investments in East Sepik.
PPAP coffee is financed through a loan from the World Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with the support of the Papua New Guinea government. Its principle goal is to improve the livelihood of farmers.
Janet Lali, 27, of Ifiufa in Eastern Highlands, is a recent graduate of University of Natural Resource and Environment (Oro campus). PPAP has helped her find work with CDA Goroka, a non-governmental organisation that helps growers in Daulo and Lufa Districts, of Eastern Highlands Province, improve their coffee gardens.
“I’m fortunate to . . . serve our 1500 farmers in Daulo and Lufa Districts on best practices from coffee husbandry to post harvest and marketing,” Lali said.
Ronah Peve, 26, an extension officer with Coffee Connections Ltd shares Lali’s sentiments: “The discipline is great. We’re continuously pressed by PPAP project management unit to provide timely and accurate data and reports of field activities.
“The CIC-PPAP technical staff continuously check us to ensure we get real value out of our efforts with farmers.”
She is a graduate of Sonoma Adventist College in Kokopo. She walked the stretch of Okapa Valley in Eastern Highlands with her two male colleagues serving 1500 growers.
Many of officers are from the local areas of operation. This is the approach PPAP is taking to ensure the knowledge and experience gained remains in the community after the life of the project.
“When you recruit someone from Morobe to go and work in Enga, he or she leaves at the end of the project. There is no one left to continue to service farmers in the community,” Hombunaka said.
The use of extension officers and field assistants is building back the extension service programme.
“The number of coffee extension officers has reduced significantly over the years and CIC through this intervention is working towards returning extension officers to re-connect farmers or producers who are important stakeholders in the coffee value chain,” says Hombunaka.
The project is also helping women field officers in the communities. Regina Lusaro, of AAAK Cooperative/PNG Coffee Exports in Goroka, said the project is empowering women to really open up their minds.
PPAP coffee will have served 30,000 farmers or households by June 2019. It is a huge challenge to manage a project of this magnitude in a country with varying traditions resembling a group of people with different cultures and attitudes.
“These challenges are real and how we negotiate through to deliver to the farmers is the strength of this project,” Hombunaka said.
The employment and training with cross learning opportunities involving local communities is another strength and milestone for PPAP coffee.
“The wealth of knowledge we are developing with the different situations we are learning and approaching on the ground is invaluable. This is what the project will leave behind and it is an asset for the agriculture sector,” Hombunaka said.
- The author is an information and communications officer for Coffee Industry Corporation’s Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project