By LORRAINE JIMAL
MOTHER of six Joana Sai used to think that only people with jobs have money.
That has changed after she started using the land to grow vegetables and other farm produce to sell at the market.
Joana is from Laiagam district in Enga.
She is the president of the Women in Agriculture Association which she started in 2015 to help village women earn money from their land.
She is married with six children – four boys and two girls. They live in Lae. She used to sell meri blouse, ice block and other items to support her husband pay the children’s school fees, food and other family expenses.
“ I used to think that people who work have a lot of money and village people don’t. Now I have realised that agriculture will make you rich too.”
“It is very costly nowadays. You cannot expect one person’s salary to cater for a huge family. It is not enough. And people in the village think that city people have a lot of money and expect us to give them money every time we visit the village.”
Every time she visits the village, she thought of how she could help the women earn money from the land, to have a source of income instead of waiting for relatives working in town to give them money every time they go to the village.
In 2014, Joana left her family in Lae and went to the village to start the association.
“Because it is difficult to seek funding outside, I formed the association so that women can seek help as a group.”
She brought together 500 women and registered the association with the Investment Promotion Authority in 2015. She received the certificate in 2016.
There was no help or funding from MPs so the women raised money to buy seedlings and farming tools.
They grow onions, ginger, cabbage, potatoes and other vegetables to supply to the local markets.
Joana can make K1,000 a day from her vegetable sale.
Deduct labour and other expenses, and she takes home around K500. She deducts 10 percent of her earnings for the association.
The women are happy to be earning money daily. Sometimes they get more than what the working class people in the city and town earn.
“I don’t need to wait for them to come and give me money or ask them to pay my children fees. I can support my family.”
When the young people see their mothers and wives doing something worthwhile and setting an example, they started changing their ways and started helping the women.
“It reduced crime, fights and drugs among the youths as they saw money from their hard work.”
The biggest challenge is providing the women training in farming. Some of them cannot read or write.
She also managed to secure space in the Wabag market for the women to manage.
“Go to the village and use the land. Don’t waste time gossiping about others or gambling fight, or argue over your partner’s salary. We in the village have money.”
She encourages women to form similar associations and involve themselves in agriculture.
Joana is happy with what she is doing in helping women in her community.
She plans to travel to other parts of Enga to help women as well.
“I used to think that people who work have a lot of money and village people don’t. Now I have realised that agriculture will make you rich too.
“So my advice to unemployed people is to go back home and make money from your land.”