By DAISY TANIOVA PAWA
GUEST OF THE WEEK
SHE practically had to knock on doors for her cause but all that knocking paid off for this humble woman, Maria Linibi, before March 30, to be able to secure support from a donor agency for a roundtable talk that would see the PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation (PNGWiADF) come face to face with donor partners, government agencies and other stakeholders.
For most women involved in the agriculture sector, Mrs Linibi would be the face of the PNGWiADF, but making a name for herself is the last thing on her mind.
Being a mother of four children and three grandchildren, Mrs Linibi who hails from Mutzing in the Markham district of Morobe province, always had the full support of her family and most importantly her husband, Peter Linibi, when she decided to take on the role of finding a voice for the women of PNG, involved in agriculture.
She was a Government liaison officer with the Department of Information and Communication for 23 years before deciding to leave her job in 1990, to become a subsistence farmer and worked her land to produce cash crops and food.
Without hesitating, she plainly stated: “I see the future of this nation in agriculture and I believe that it is the backbone of this nation.”
While she worked her land to produce food for her families sustenance, she realised that women who were involved in agriculture had major issues to address, as she began to feel and see first hand, the hardships women were facing while trying to make a living through agriculture, to improve their standard of living and most importantly, making sure that their was food on the table for her family.
“When women are taken care of they will contribute fully and positively to the needs of their families and when families are taken care of, they will then contribute positively to their communities and in turn to the nation as a whole”.
In 2006, Mrs Linibi with nine others from PNG and Australia formed the PNGWiADF.
She said it was a long and slow process but in the end her passion to pursue her goal of having a foundation to represent these hardworking women paid off.
Apart from being the president of PNGWiADF, she involved herself with training and preparation of project proposals.
Her husband, also a farmer, is a strong believer of her foundation and assists her by teaching women down streaming processes of turning primary products to secondary products such as peanut butter and jam.
The PNGWiADF represents women in all sectors engaging in agriculture.
It currently has 29 registered groups in 15 provinces in local to district and provincial levels, with 13 corporate members.
On March 30-31, after endless door-knocking, the Australia High Commission through AusAID, finally opened its doors to Mrs Linibi and provided support to stage the roundtable talk.
This roundtable talk enable the PNGWiADF voice their concerns to, government agencies, donor partners and other stakeholders.
It was a very successful moment for the foundation and for because it proved that people were interested in assisting women in agriculture because they realised the importance of these two components complementing each other.
Mrs Linibi said this would enabled partnership and networking for the women as well as the possibility to receive training, resources, finance and excess to credit facilities.
While at the roundtable talk last week, she received another boost when she was told by the chairman of the National Agricultural Institute, Dr John Kola, that NRI was giving her an office space fully equipped with furniture, a computer with connections to internet and email services and excess to the NRI publications unit for dissemination of information from the foundation.