Over the last four months, the EU-STREIT PNG Program in has reached 5000 plus mostly rural farmers, including 3000 young girls and women from 40 remote villages as well as educational institutions in the Sepik Region, to mainstream gender and youth inclusion into the agri-food value chain, in collaboration with partners.
Papua New Guinea’s Wewak During the first four months of this year, the EU-funded UN Joint STREIT PNG Program in Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with stakeholders, held 12 sensitization sessions and training workshops in East Sepik and Sandaun provinces, reaching over 5000 farmers, villagers, officials, extension service workers, and students.
Between January and April 2022, these awareness and capacity-building seminars were held at 50 sites with participants from 34 Wards in 22 Local Level Governments (LLCs). Three secondary schools, a primary school, and a technical and vocational training center were all included in the awareness campaign.
Under the Cocoa, Vanilla, and Fisheries value chain development programs sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), approximately 3000 girls aged 16 and up have been trained as lead farmers, in addition to gender and youth sensitization and capacity building activities. These women and girls took part in capacity-building workshops held in East Sepik and Sandaun provinces’ rural LLGs and districts. They’ve learned the ability to pass on acquired skills like cocoa propagation and block management, as well as vanilla cultivation, husbandry, and processing procedures, to other members of their households or clusters. These trainees (ToT) would then be able to reach a larger number of beneficiaries in hard-to-reach rural communities, allowing more farmers to contribute to increased quantity/quality production, resulting in enhanced income and cash flow for farming households and communities.
All capacity development training is facilitated in collaboration with Cocoa Board extension service officers, Fisheries Authority officers, Divisions of Agriculture and Livestock officers, and local NGO workers, and it is planned to translate knowledge materials such as manuals into the local Tok Pisin language for better dissemination.
2500 youths and women in 16 villages have received Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) tolerant seedlings to replace old sterile plants as part of a program to provide excellent agriculture inputs.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) under EU-STREIT PNG, in collaboration with the TVET Centre in Wewak, organized a skills training and capacity development course for 30 youths and women from various parts of East Sepik Province to strengthen local capacity for quality transport infrastructure works in the Sepik Region. By the end of the year, this continuous collaboration will have developed the capacities of 150 more youngsters, resulting in respectable work prospects for rural youth and women who lack degrees in in-demand practical skills.
Furthermore, under the EU-STREIT PNG Program and in collaboration with three local financial institutions, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has launched a “access to finance” and financial literacy effort to promote access to financial services in remote areas. In the first four months of 2022, more than 13,000 women in the Greater Sepik region were connected to the formal financial system thanks to this campaign.
“Gender is cross-cutting, and when people are gender sensitized and aware, families and communities stay intact, and sustainable development becomes the norm,” said Patu Shang, the Programme’s International Gender and Youth Inclusion Specialist.
“We can’t change mindsets in a single session,” she continued, “but under the EU-STREIT PNG Program, continuous sensitization awareness for youth and gender inclusion, as well as technical support to train, enable, and provide the necessary accesses for women and youth, is critical, and this is where we know that change is possible, and change is what we must promote.”
The EU-STREIT PNG Program, which is being implemented as a UN Joint Programme (with FAO as the lead agency and partners ILO, ITU, UNCDF, and UNDP), is the European Union’s largest grant-funded program in the country and the Pacific area. The Program aims to improve the lives of people in East Sepik and Sandaun provinces by focusing on improving rural economic development through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla, and fishery value chains, as well as strengthening and improving the efficiency of the value chain enablers, such as the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-proof transportation and energy infrastructure development.