Archive for the ‘People’s Economy’ Category

Husband and wife team Mere and Igu Yawane have been teaching women in the Eastern Highlands how to make this delicious bread from cassava.

Cassava flour and bread

Cassava flour and bread

Cassava processor to produce the flour

Cassava processor to produce the flour

Not only is the bread more tasty than the one at the shop, it is a source of food that can be relied upon during times of drought. And, it’s a money-maker – Mere sells her own cassava loaves direct to customers for K6!

Cassava bread

Cassava bread

Mere explained the couple’s motivation for helping train women in this enterprise: “Things won’t always be good every year, we go through hard times too,” she said.

“At these times – insects eat the sweet potatoes, rice doesn’t grow well – we must store something. We can make this flour in readiness for these times of need. And use it to feed your family at that time.”

Mere Yawane, food security trainer and entrepreneur

Mere Yawane, food security trainer and entrepreneur

Savé PNG's Jennifer Waiko speaking at the Slow Foods festival in Italy last month

Savé PNG’s Jennifer Waiko speaking at the Slow Foods festival in Italy last month

PNG’s farmers and traditional cuisine took centre stage at one of the world’s major food events last month.

Markham Valley-based non-profit Savé PNG spoke at the Slow Foods (‘Salone del Gusto’) festival in Torino, Italy.

At the event, Savé PNG director Jennifer Waiko was invited to speak on a conference about ‘Indigenous Peoples and Local Food Sovereignty: A struggle for self determination’, where she said the farmers who are severely neglected by the PNG government hold the key to PNG’s economic independence.

“The majority of Papua New Guineas have is the ability to earn a livelihood from the land,” Waiko said. “We have the skills, but we need the training and market opportunities to gain financial independence.

“Political decisions in Papua New Guinea are based on money: that is, on short term aspirations. Make the people financially independent and they will make more choices based on long term aspirations.”

Savé PNG is working to inspire Papua New Guineans to embrace their cultural identity and protect their traditional foodways. They believe that celebrating traditional food is the first step towards community resiliency in the face of health, climate and cultural threats in PNG.

They are currently working on a educational video series called “Cafe Niugini” which explores indigenous cuisines and cultures of Papua New Guinea.

Slow Food is a global movement that aims to “counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions, and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” At this year’s four-day festival, there were 950 food exhibitors from 130 countries.

Savé PNG’s Bao Waiko is hopeful PNG farmers will be represented at the 2014 Slow Food festival.

“Salone is the perfect opportunity for small local PNG food groups working on agricultural products such as coffee, chocolatecoconut oil, honey, dried fruits and other locally grown and processed products to gain international exposure and recognition”, Bao said.

If you would like to know more about Slow Food go to www.slowfood.com. Read more about Save PNG here or contact Jennifer and Bao at savepng@gmail.com.

Tomato growers at theSlow Food Festival in Italy

Tomato growers at theSlow Food Festival in Italy

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Damaris Loie and her husband Tella have worked together for over 20 years making honey in the frontyard of their home in Logofate, in Ungai-Bena District.

The couple have customers for their delicious, 100% organic honey from around the Highlands, but aren’t keeping their specialised knowledge to themselves: they’re trying to train other women in the Eastern Highlands, so they can help ‘kamapim’ others. “They will be happy, and you will be happy too,” Damaris said.

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Tella loves working with his wife, and says more PNG men could benefit from doing the same.”Working in partnership with women is very good,” he said. “We’re a team, and it makes our work much easier. Also, women are very good managers, especially in terms of finance.

“If PNG men have this mentality where they’re only thinking of themselves, it won’t work as well. But if we can team up and apply the wisdom of women – their management skills, their way of looking after their families and putting food on the table – if we can incorporate this attitude into our businesses, I think communities in PNG will be better off.”

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Sesame John is a flower-gardener in Kabiufa, Goroka. Every week she sells flowers, fetching up to K200 per pot! She also sells large amounts for events and celebrations, and regularly hires out her gorgeous posies to Goroka University for graduation ceremonies. Her beautiful garden contains literally thousands of kina in flowers.

Having worked profitably in floriculture for more than 20 years, Sesame is a firm believer in reaping what you sow. “We have our land, so we must work,” she told us. “Moni stap long graun (‘money is inside our land’). If we work hard, we make money. If we are lazy, and wait for someone else, it will be hard for us to survive.
“You must work, you must sweat. And you will reap the rewards of your hard work.”
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Serah Yasona decided to revive her father’s old fish farm after he passed away. A single mother, she had three children and one adopted child to provide for.

Last year she set about refurbishing the fish farm (in Komiufa, Goroka district), plastering the seven concerete ponds and fixing the pipe system with her own hands, from her own sweat. She went to her DPI office to get some advice about how to do it. She has even added two more large ponds. She plans to sell fish at the markets or direct to local buyers.


Serah said she was not only happy to have found to a way to support her family, but she’s come to realise her potential as a Papua New Guinean woman.”I saw that I had to do something so I could pay for my children’s school fees and other living expenses,” she said. “I taught myself how to do this and it’s really interesting. Now I want to work on my farm all the time!”

Lucy Kioso started raising cattle a few years ago, after leaving her husband. She had to find a way to provide for her children. Today, Lucy owns 38 cows on her property in Kopafo, in Ungai Bena District outside Goroka.

Each cow sells for around K2,500 (over AUD$1,000) each – the cow in the photo below is ready for selling and Lucy is confident it will fetch that price.

Lucy’s cows are sought after and she has keen buyers from around the district. Her income supports her family and contributes to her local community.

Lucy doesn’t ride a horse – so to round up her cows, she has trained them to respond to her call. When she sings out, the cows come to her. It’s an astonishing sight.

“I don’t need a man to help me,” she told us proudly. “I’m a woman and I am very capable of looking after cows. And I’m doing it.”

Zavis Pupune is building her own guesthouse on her land at Fanayufa, Goroka. Her story is one of gentle determination.

“I started selling flowers to make a little money,” she explained to Our Pacific Ways when we visited her place last week. “I thought I could use that to start a chicken farm.

“From starting with one box of chickens I went to three and then four boxes. Then I started a piggery too. I can get K1,500 for one pig.”From those earnings, Zavis is building a guesthouse, and has dreams of also building a conference room on her property. Through her hard work and vision, her children now have the opportunity to go to school in Australia.

“Working little by little, we can improve our lives,” she says. “I believe that I can do something, with the few skills that God has given me, to do something to improve my life. I have land. I can use it to do something for myself.”

 

As a young man, how do you feel about your future going forward in PNG?

I’m pretty sure that the PNG’s current trend will have major impact on me as well as this current generation. As Papua New Guineans, you know what I mean by current trends: the problems of service delivery by the government and the issues you see daily in media. Unless we, this upcoming lot of intellectuals take a different proactive approach towards the way things are done in Papua New Guinea, and get a larger portion of our population educated, we will be of no difference than those who existed before us. The environment is just a reflection of the kind of people living in it. Therefore, let us all be the advocate for change and create a better PNG for our future generations.

Coming back to my own future, I feel I have a responsibility to educate my fellow villagers and help them realise their potential and many things they are missing out on. I’d like to give back something to my people, who in one way or the other, invested greatly in me and brought me this far.

 

What part of PNG do you come from? When you think about your community, how would you describe the presence or absence of the national goals in their lives?

I hail from Mekeo in Kairuku-Hiri District in Central Province, PNG. Frankly speaking National Goals are not having any impact on the villages or simply, it’s not present in the lives of the people at all. They need people like us to impart these ideas to them and I think the translated Tok Pisin version can help. As there is high rate of illiteracy in the community, an average villager does not have any idea what the National Goals are all about. Others might have a different perception towards this but as for myself, I see that most uneducated or semi-educated people do not really care about whatever is happening in the Parliament or where our country is heading to. Like they say, you’ll only have a say when you understand something and can respond.

One thing that I noticed is that the government has created a mind-sets in people like: ‘em wok blo Gavaman, em bai kam wokim’ (‘it’s the government’s responsibility, they’ll come and do it’). People concentrate on their daily endeavours without thinking of helping themselves. They only rely on hand-outs by the government. Another problem is that when some educated villagers attempt to do something worthwhile, the lengthy and complicated processes and unresponsiveness of the public servants just compel them to abandon it again.

 

What can the government, bureaucrats and local people do to improve the future in Papua New Guinea?

PNG’s development policy contradicts the proper role of the government as facilitator and regulator of the economy. The state disempowers people from realising their potential and so people depend heavily on ‘hand-outs’ and expect the government to do everything. In other words, it makes people become lazy. Thus, the government’s role in the economy should be merely to help the people to help themselves. For example, it should be helping parents engage in agriculture, by building better road networks and infrastructure and marketing channels to help the parents generate income by themselves.

Rather than concentrating too much on foreign investment to run the economy, the government should recognise the potentials of our local entrepreneurs and support them. The best that any government can do to promote broad-based growth and development is to promote equal opportunities for its citizens to engage in income generation.

In relation to the role of people, we should have in us a sense of responsibility. I believe that the reason behind PNG not progressing is our attitude. I’m sure everybody is talking about this. The kind of attitude that we have hinders the nation from moving forward. People blaming the government, government blaming people and we won’t even go anywhere. We can say poverty is the cause but we are not in a desert country in Africa.  We are in PNG, the country renowned for its abundant resources. Let us not allow laziness to make us poor. Let us help ourselves to develop our country. I therefore appeal to every citizen to be responsible and do whatever it takes at your own level to improve the future in Papua New Guinea.

By Joel G. Waramboi

This year PNG celebrated 37 years of nationhood. One thing that has not stopped growing ever since is our population, and in the last 10 years, our population has been growing rapidly at about 2.4% per annum, reaching 7 million people in 2012. During the same period, although there is no concrete data, our per capita gross domestic product (GDP) could have declined dramatically due to several factors like lower outputs from agricultural crops and commodities. On the other hand, the inflation rate has risen, which now sits at around 10%.

This is an alarming trend, and by 2016, the population is expected to be around 12 to 15 million. This will place huge demands on increasing food production and assuring food security for our people. Reports from the Asian Development Bank shows that the natural resources sector (agriculture, forestry, fisheries) contributes almost 70% of total cash income for people in PNG. These industries will continue to be prime movers of the local economy.

From 2014 onwards, revenue inflows are expected from the LNG project. In September last year, the then Agriculture and Livestock minister Sir Puka Temu called on the government to put some of this money into food and agriculture industries. His calling is timely, and must be supported at the political level. In 2005, the PNG Government adopted the Green Revolution and Export-Driven Economic Recovery Strategy. For the sector, this strategy was aimed at improving production and creating market demands for our crops to meet growing domestic demand, and also to seek export market opportunities.

In recent years, we have seen several vehicles that could have taken the sector forward, like the Public Investment Programme and the National Agriculture Development Plan, go by. Last year, a forum aimed at setting a roadmap for policy intervention to develop the food and agriculture sector was held in Madang. We hope this translates into tangible outcomes that can spur growth and development in PNG.

Several projects and programmes have been tried out before on tree crops, livestock, fisheries and other natural resources industries. But as far as food crops are concerned, no investments have been made. One potential food crop that requires minimal capital injection is the sweet potato (kaukau). Since being introduced nearly 300 years ago, it is now the most important food crop in terms of both production and consumption. Total annual production for PNG has been estimated at 2.9 million tonnes, with the Southern (620,000) Eastern (470,000) and Western (425,000) highlands provinces being the main producers, followed by Enga (340,000) and Chimbu (294,000).

It is a staple food, and provides 64% of the energy needs for people. Five years ago, per capita consumption was 2.2 kg/person/year, and this year, increased to 2.8 kg/person/year. One reason to explain this is that, in the last 10 years, sweet potato has been traded in increasing volumes as a cash crop in urban centres of Port Moresby, Lae, Kokopo and other centres.

There are many constraints that affect production and marketing of the crop, including soil fertility, rats (which can destroy up to 10% of the crop), poor access to roads, lack of farmer extension services, and poor post-harvest handling practices that lead to rotting, broken roots and subsequent loss in monetary value. Currently, a few ‘commercial’ sweetpotato farmers are located in the Asaro and Waghi valleys, who grow mainly for coastal urban markets.

Currently, utilisation and consumption of sweetpotato in PNG has primarily been in the form of boiled or roasted roots. There is no processing of the crop. In the past, some research and product development work was done at the PNG Unitech into products like flour, chips, crisps and composite bread. Recently, NARI successfully released sweetpotato based feeds (silage) for pigs. Experiences from Vietnam and China have shown that the crop could be highly utilized for livestock production, where it constitutes 70% of pig feeds.

Past and current R&D work on sweetpotato suggest that it can be a potential commercial crop for PNG. On-farm processing of sweetpotato could form an additional income-generating activity where a constant supply of the fresh roots and demand for processed products is secured. With government assistance, this industry can be transformed from its currently under-utilised status to a commercially viable industry.

Sweetpotato processing is increasingly being commercialized in many countries in Africa, Asia and the United States. In Australia, the sweetpotato industry is worth A$40 million annually.

There is low-cost extrusion equipment available, costing as low as $10,000 (K24,000) with production capacity of 30 kg/hour. These have successfully been used in rural communities in Vietnam, China, Peru, Kenya and other countries to make noodles, pasta, vermicelli, flakes, crackers, puffs and other products. Besides extruded foods, these communities have also used sweet potato flour for substituted biscuits, bread and scones, while fresh roots have been processed into chips and crisps.

Currently, fresh kaukau roots are sold at around K2-5 per kg in the open markets in PNG. Although there are no statistics, some rough calculations show that, if processed, the dry flour could cost as low as K0.80 per kg, providing a cheaper product compared to wheat flour. This means that, retail margins can be relatively good for entrepreneurs. Processing not only increases the utilisation and consumption, but also fetches premium prices if sold, increases cash income opportunities for people, and avoids bulkiness during handling. Sweetpotato processing technologies are relatively simple, and can be adopted easily through farmer co-operatives and women’s groups.

Generally, there appears to be a strong and all-year round demand for processed products. Changing food habits, increasing urbanisation, demographic changes and population growth are all positive factors that can make food processing a viable option in PNG.

The PNG government and all line agencies must now take a complete policy shift and focus, and realign both macro-economic and sectoral policies, and allocate funding and resources to develop the agriculture and food processing industries in the country. Alongside this, it should also invest in rural infrastructure programmes to create enabling environment that will support industry development and growth in rural communities.

We should also take a stock of what and why the industry has not developed over the many years. If past investment options (if any) have not worked, what other models and options can we try? How about setting up an organisation specifically mandated to drive development in this sector? It is about time that the food and agriculture sector takes this course to revolutionise and harness its potential to the fullest. Until and unless this is done, crops like sweetpotato will continue to be treated as poor man’s crop.

Downstream processing and value addition has the potential to benefit en masse, raise the economic value, and create market demand for local crops. It will also improve food security and cash income levels, increase trade and replace/substitute imports, thereby contributing to broad-based economic growth and improvement in the living standards of the people.


(Photo by Eric Lafforgue)

Honorary Curator of the Vanuatu Museum, anthropologist Kirk Huffman says land is working in Melanesia – contrary to the view supported by AusAID, foreign economists and others. He says they need to rethink the sense of linking our self-sufficient, superior Pacific with an failed western development model.

“Land has been working for Melanesians, and working well for Melanesians for thousands of years. It’s just that, I guess, any sort of project that economists, development economists are involved in – because they only think about money – they think that land is not working for someone unless it’s making money.

“That’s a bit ridiculous in Melanesia where you’ve got the world’s highest percentage of people who are still basically self sufficient and still living on their own traditional land. The land is actually the biggest employer in the whole of Melanesia! It doesn’t just sort of hand out shillings at the end of every week like in the White Man’s World. In the White Man’s World money has become the God. Everything is focussed around this thing called money. If you look at money, modern money, from a Melanesian point of view the closest comparison you can make is that it’s rather like an addictive drug. It’s useful and beneficial in small quantities but if you over-do it it can become addictive and very socially divisive.
“Around the coast of the island of Efate in Vanuatu I think something like just over 60 per cent of the land has been alienated. And this is very rapidly. And the thing is it’s being promoted as, sort of, development. It does seem to me a little bit strange that something that is promoted as development is something that essentially means that traditional land custodians essentially lose control over their land.”There must be a better way around all this. OK, if you want development – right, one needs this, one needs that – we all know that. But let’s have the kind of development that is relevant for us. You know, we don’t need outdated and faulty economic theory forced onto, essentially, almost self sufficient island nations and cultures. Because if you pull them into the modern, highly unstable financial situation a little glitch or a hiccup or a collapse on the far side, the isolated side of the world like, for example, the United States or wherever, you could actually affect people in Melanesia. And it’s not fair! You’d think economists would actually learn something. It needs economists to respect the fact that there may be parts of the world that their type of economic theory does not fit.

“It’s actually a clash of cultures between a Western, money obsessed, capitalistic, individualistic system against Melanesian systems which are actually much, much older, a lot more sophisticated, a lot more communally orientated, a lot more geared to self sufficiency and profound thinking about ways of looking at the environment where you’re actually part of the land. The land is actually part of you.”

Via http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/veteran-anthropologist-criticises-ausaids-approach-to-land/1022032