A PROJECT aimed at improving opportunities for economic development for women smallholders in rural Papua New Guinea has commenced its women in business acumen project component in Eastern Highlands.
The project is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and managed by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Reasearch (ACIAR) Women in Business Acumen Project. The project is run by the ACIAR and the Fresh Produce Development Agency.
The one-year project looks to improving women’s agricultural productivity through agricultural extension, improving banking, saving and skills in financial management for agricultural small business activities, increasing capabilities to access micro-finance and building gender inclusive decision-making capacity within the family and community through the family teams training approach.
Women smallholders are key to PNG family livelihoods; they produce essential subsistence crops while undertaking valued social roles and responsibilities such as family care.
However, women smallholders face significant agricultural constraints like:
- limited access to productive resources;
- low banking rates, limited financial skills and lack of access to credit;
- poor developed transport systems;
- lack of access to markets;
- unequal gendered family roles and division of labour;
- restrictions to mobility; and
- overall safety.
They have educational disadvantages due to low school completion rates and limited access to training or extension service.
Although most women aspire to improve their family livelihoods, only a few women smallholders have the necessary agricultural and business acumen to do so.
The project’s objectives are:
- To examine the capacity development of women as community-based agricultural leaders;
- To explore ways in which communities can develop partnerships with the private sector , schools and training providers that are relevant to the local context and culture;
- To further develop the peer education model of agricultural extension;
- To examine the uptake and impact of a family team approach to farming for women and girls.
The agreed sites for this project are located in the Asaro Valley, in six villages in Goroka and Daulo Districts. They are Gahuku (Kafuku), Ifiufa, Notofona, Asaro, Runumbe and Kasena.
In February, 34 women smallholders were selected as Village Community Educators (VCEs) for the project.
They then received training on Family Team Modules regarding family roles, men’s and women’s work in the home, planning useful goals and mapping a family team’s goals.