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FAO Uses Innovative Tools To Promote 'Farming As A Family Business' In Papua New Guinea

Wewak, Papua New Guinea

Thirty dedicated government officers, staff of implementing partner organisations and lead farmers in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea are now equipped with the skills and knowledge to promote more inclusive, business-oriented and sustainable family farming. This progress comes from a practical training tool introduced by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as part of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme.

The participants attended a Training-of-Trainers (ToT) workshop and learned the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) methodology. This methodology encourages building strong, gender-balanced business-oriented family farms. The workshop, named ‘Farming as a Family Business,’ was held in Maprik, East Sepik Province, and attracted 12 women and 18 men from all six districts of the province.

The ToT training included various themes and tools like the Vision Road Journey, Happy Family Tree, Increasing Income Tree, and Diamond Tree. These tools help participants plan their futures, address gender-based violence, and increase family incomes. By using symbols and inclusion principles, participants learned to negotiate their needs for gender-equitable livelihoods and change power dynamics that might limit their progress.

Now empowered, these 30 participants are ready to support and advise farmers on gender issues. They will also help train Community Gender Advocates (CGAs), who will become permanent advisers to households in their communities.

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During the workshop, the participants practiced each tool in pairs until they felt confident. Feedback was very positive. Erick Mariha, an ex-convict and member of the Hombuko Solutions 2050 group supported by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, said, “My life has changed. I now have a cocoa farm to my name and this training has opened up my brain and I now see that I have a life-purpose and a vision for myself and family which I will plan and work hard to achieve.”

Mr. Wau Morokai, an officer with the National Agriculture & Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA), added, “I am about to retire, and this is just a square peg in a square hole. I will help my community, but I will help myself first to plan for my retirement and work, using the ‘GALS Visioning Tool’ to plan and execute my vision and that of my community.”

Officer from Provincial Division of Agriculture and Livestock, Ms. Kathlyn Wangoro shared, “I now see why every member in a house or family must talk together and agree with what they want to accomplish and share their responsibilities so that results are achievable for a happy family and business.”

A social media dedicated group was created for these GALS champions to share their training plans and results. They are expected to finalize the list of CGAs by the end of June 2024.

Gender and Youth Inclusion Specialist Ms. Patu Shang, who facilitated the workshop, explained, “With this GALS method, the household becomes the focus where everyone takes part in the setting of goals or vision for their family farm and business. Gender balance is also promoted within the families to boost their income through smart planning.”

Ms. Zilpah Yahamani, Gender and Youth Inclusion Officer and co-facilitator, added, “We’re still following our old land tenure system to cultivate Cocoa, Vanilla as well as Fisheries, so GALS is more suitable for us in that sense to improve efficiency in terms of production where we can understand power dynamics in the household to improve gender participation in the distribution of labour.”

The EU-STREIT PNG Programme will continue using GALS to train gender advocates, including in West Sepik Province, to promote sustainable and equitable development of cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries value chains in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea.

About the EU-STREIT PNG Programme

The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a United Nations Joint Programme (FAO as leading agency and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the European Union's largest grant-funded initiative in the country. It focuses on boosting sustainable and inclusive economic development in rural areas. This is achieved by enhancing economic returns and opportunities within cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries value chains. Additionally, the Programme strengthens and improves the efficiency of value chain enablers, including access to ICT and digital financial services. It also supports the development of sustainable, climate-resilient transport infrastructures and renewable energy solutions. The Programme benefits two provinces: East Sepik and West Sepik.

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