Agriculture and development have been key to success for some Papua New Guinea youth and women, thanks to their farmer’s organisations.
Maria Linibi is the founder of Papua New Guinea Women in Agriculture and Development.
She said it is only natural women should be at the centre of this farming organisation, as in P.N.G women do 95 per cent of the planting, harvesting and marketing.
“As a farmer, I came across several issues,” she said.
“We were farming fine, but we needed people to link us to markets, extension officers to get us to the next step because most farmers were either gardeners or small farmers.”
With barely any farms at a commercial level, Ms Linibi saw a gap that needed to be filled – connecting farmers together, and connecting them all to the marketplace.
“We were acting as a voice or a network.
“In P.N.G when you bring the mothers in, you bring the children in, and eventually the fathers come along too,” she said.
Kevin Gabriel is from the Jiwaka Province in P.N.G, and he formed the Jiwaka Youth in Agriculture Association, to share what he had learned about off-season cropping.
Most importantly, the people he encouraged to join were unemployed and struggling to get by, he said.
Today, his youth association harvests capsicum, watermelon, papaya and cabbage, and the members of his association have a steady and increasing form of income.
“I’ve seen how they can afford cars, and building proper houses now, which I am proud of,” said Mr Gabriel.
The agriculture project is still only semi-commercial, he said. With Ms Linibi’s help he hopes to go fully commercial and secure contracts in other countries.
Ms Linibi and Mr Gabriel are both members of the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (P.I.F.O.N) and are in Samoa to share their knowledge and skills with local farmers as well as learn from their colleagues.
The work of P.N.G Women in Agriculture, and Jiwaka Youth in Agriculture Association is transferable to the farmers here in Samoa, said Ms Linibi.
“Women are better managers… We know what is missing in the house, we know what needs to be done, and when we have money we tend to manage it properly,” she said.
Mr Gabriel said with the right incentives, it is easy to incentivise youth to try out agricultural projects here in Samoa too.
Jiwaka Youth gets its funding from P.I.F.O.N and P.N.G Women in Agriculture, as they currently receive no government support.
Though Ms Linibi and Mr Gabriel agree the government should be supporting agricultural projects, bureaucracies often get in the way of funding reaching small farmers.