Thursday, 6 March 2014

Celebrating International Women's Day 2014

ACIAR works with women smallholder farmers across a wide range of countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea (PNG), and countries in south-eastern Africa. Our research aims to make agriculture more equitable for these women, to enable them to make money to send their children to school, improve housing and provide basic family necessities. The research particularly seeks to understand the constraints and opportunities faced by smallholder women farmers and to improve their knowledge and capacity. 

The emphasis on women is especially strong in PNG. Research covers a range of commodities, including staple crops grown for domestic markets (e.g. sweetpotato) and crops for potential export (e.g. coffee, oil palm and cocoa). A key area of focus is teaching women business acumen (‘liklik bisnis’), including financial literacy and management, how to match market supply with demand, and how to access credit.

Smallholder coffee growers are being helped through
ACIAR research in Papua New Guinea
Ms Matilda Hamago is a local project leader for ACIAR research on coffee in PNG. She works with the research and extension division of the Coffee Industry Corporation Ltd in Goroka, as Training Coordinator for Women in Coffee Development. Her role is to support women who want to get into the coffee industry, helping them with advice, training and networking along the whole value chain. 

Coffee is PNG’s second largest commodity; PNG produces about 1% of the world’s coffee supply. Around 400,000 households produce the vast majority of this on smallholder farms, and the growers are mostly men.

Matilda says the greatest challenge faced by women smallholders involved in the coffee industry is the lack of recognition and acceptance of their important role in coffee production, right along the value chain. She stressed that women’s contributions need to be acknowledged and supported by the industry. This would lead the way to creating a more enabling environment for women, where they can receive training and other assistance they need. 

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop presents Ms Matilda Hamago
with a John Dillon Fellowship plaque
Matilda works closely with villagers who are coffee growers, nursery owners, processors, packagers and marketers producing coffee for domestic markets and some small-scale exports. 

“We talk with the women to understand what problems they are facing. It might be high costs on inputs, distance to markets, or something else – different people need help with different things. It’s important to know this first and then work out the best solutions for them,” she says. The folk she works with really appreciate this approach and are very happy to be involved in the project.

“The aim is to help these villagers produce high-quality coffee and receive premium prices for it”, says Matilda. The focus is on capturing niche markets, for example for single-origin, organic or fair-trade products. Much of the work is done with farmer cooperative groups.

Matilda believes this ACIAR research is a real eye opener for socioeconomic research in the coffee industry, and more broadly for PNG, especially for the major export crops of cocoa, oil palm and coffee. 

Matilda holds a Bachelor of Agribusiness from the Curtin University of Technology, which she completed on an Australia Awards scholarship. She is also one of ACIAR’s John Dillon Fellows, and has been in Australia over the past few weeks receiving training in research management, leadership and communication. 

“This training is very good to me and helps me a lot”, she says. “I have personally developed and also been able to collaborate and partner with other John Dillon Fellows and researchers in Australian institutions. The lessons I have learned, I will take back home and share.”

International Women’s Day will be celebrated on March 8. ACIAR acknowledges the efforts of outstanding women like Matilda who are leading others to a better future.

By Dr Wendy Henderson, ACIAR’s Science Communicator

More information:
ACIAR projects
ASEM/2008/036 - Improving livelihoods of smallholder families through increased productivity of coffee-based farming systems in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. This project is led by Curtin University.
ASEM/2010/052 - Examining women's business acumen in Papua New Guinea: Working with women smallholders in horticulture. This project is led by the University of Canberra - see their project website.

New Agriculturalist article Building liklik business in PNG 

ACIAR blog Success stories of socioeconomic research in Papua New Guinea 

Workshop proceedings - Socioeconomic agricultural research in Papua New Guinea 

1 comment:

  1. I like this site because here is all information too really and good. I have a coffee farm. My farm is producing coffee. I have also a project for coffee worker. This project is change worker life style. More information visits the site.
    Coffee Farm


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