Nari has made notable efforts to see women empowered with skills to drive the sector forward and realise plans set by the Government, Samuel Toposona writes
THE National Agricultural Research Institute (Nari) understands the important role women play within the agriculture sector.
As a prime research institute, Nari has made notable efforts to see women empowered with skills to drive the sector forward and realise plans set by the Government.
Over the past few years, our efforts to support women’s participation in agriculture have been guided by the institute’s 2012-2020 gender mainstreaming policy.
Relevant gender inclusive processes are being embraced in the workplace and projects to give equal opportunities to smallholder farmers to improve their practice in communities that the institute is engaged with.
From 2000 to 2016, over 40 staff have been trained through our cadetship programme.
Staff underwent training not just in agriculture-related fields such as livestock and horticulture as well as post harvest, communication, economics and logistics.
Among them were eight women.
These female staff have since joined the workforce and contributed to the sector in various capacities.
We do our best to see that gender is visible in our donor-funded research projects to address gender-related issues.
One of our successful projects was the family farm team (FFT).
FFT is a “family-friendly” approach funded through partnership with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research and focussed on empowering female farmers in rural farming communities.
Through family farm teams, women were up-skilled with basic farming and agri-business skills to actively contribute to improving their family farms and livelihoods.
The project has helped participating families to share responsibilities; practice positive communication and time management skills; and work towards achieving family goals.
One of the many life changing stories to come out from family farm team project is that of a model couple from Jiwaka; Paulus and Hellen Graham.
The couple said: “The secret of our success is that we have learnt to understand each other and work well together.
“Our greatest achievements so far include being able to manage our time, share roles and have a bank savings account.
“These successes have really raised our self-esteem.”
Their lives had been amazingly transformed by good farm management skills and opportunities to achieve important livelihood goals such as building a permanent home and affording education for their children.
The two of them now work as volunteer community educators to share their experience with other people in their community.
We also pursue gender initiatives through other projects like the European Union climate change resilient project (EUCCR).
Through EUCCR, we are able to proactively involve vulnerable communities being prepared to manage coping strategies during extreme climatic events such as drought.
One of the key objectives under the project is creating gender awareness.
This is especially concerned with encouraging farmers to work together in sharing management of economic activities and the benefits gained from them.
Both men and women are encouraged to work as a team to achieve success in small farm business activities.
This is promoted under project’s trainer-of-trainers’ (TOT) training programme at 16 pilot and outreach sites around the country.
For example, at the Teptep pilot site in Madang, both male and female farmers underwent trainings in various farming skills such as preparing pig sweet potato silage feed; collecting soil samples; and assessing and managing soil and water resources.
TOT trainings have provided local farmers opportunities to appreciate that equal participation by both men and women is important to achieving sustainable progress in the agricultural sector.
Early last December, a week-long trainer of trainers’ workshop was conducted in Teptep.
A total of 72 participants came from different communities that exist near the border of Madang and Morobe.
Women made up a half of that number and they were keen to apply new farming ideas they learnt.
Female participant Yamoi Musa said: “The training was very much appreciated by the women.”
According to Musa, the knowledge of pig silage using sweet potato was also important as it would enable women to spend less time looking for pig feed thereby, allowing them the opportunity to engage in other work.
For example, many women would have time to apply post-production skills they learnt to add value to common crops like sweet potato for income generation.
PNG’s 2018-2022 Medium Term Development Plan III embraces gender as a key indicator in its monitoring and evaluation processes to assess effectiveness of different development programmes.
We believe that gender equality efforts cannot be single-handedly achieved but requires combined efforts of relevant stakeholders.
This commitment is important as it would ensure that positive contributions made by women towards the growth of the sector are not ignored but given the level of recognition they deserve.
This aspiration is reaffirmed under this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme; “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights”.
IWD is observed annually on March 8. We joined our key stakeholders and partners in commemorating this important global event.
- Samuel Toposona is the information and communication associate officer attached to Nari’s headquarters at Bubia, Morobe