Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

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.”

By Catherine Wilson

Part Two

Painting by PNG artist Jeffrey Feeger (photo by Claire Kouro)

 

In 2011 the National Informal Economy Policy was launched to promote “the informal economy as the ‘grassroots expression’ of the private sector and a partner in the formal economic system of Papua New Guinea.”

The policy advocates growth of, and greater civil participation in, the informal economy, regardless of gender, urban or rural location, and ultimately socio-economic inclusion for all involved.

Strategies to empower workers include an enabling regulatory environment, financial inclusion through microfinance and provision of improved infrastructure, facilities, education and training, social protection and political representation. Thus, it is hoped to link “the economies of rural and urban areas and to reduce inter-regional, as well as inter-personal, income inequalities.”

At Gordons Market, where there is currently no power, public water supply, inadequate sanitation and refuse management, vendors would like to see changes.

“I would like to see improvements, especially more benches for vendors and power supply,” said Miriam, from Babiko village, who works at the market with her mother and two sisters.

“We would also like to see good services for road transport, as sometimes when public transport is not available, we are not able to get to market in time to sell enough.”

The size and resilience of the our agricultural economy is testament to the initiative and creativity of people and communities at the grassroots, but putting in place promised state reforms is vital to its development and long term future.

“The informal economy in the agricultural sector is a booming industry,” Maria Linibi, president of PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation, claims.

“Women in PNG are entrepreneurs and make do with what resources they have, such as markets, transport, even if it means walking long distances with heavy loads on their backs to the nearest available means to earn some cash,” Linibi said.

“But there is,” she added, “no proper marketing infrastructure and other facilities in place to facilitate and support the informal sector to boost and sustain its effectiveness.”

Market vendor, Nikil, took pride in saying: “We do everything ourselves.”

NRI’s Nalau Bingeding said that substantial PNG-based agricultural research and its effective application, addressing restricted and expensive transport options and developing appropriate technology to prolong the life of perishables, would bring prosperity to smallholders and food gardeners.

Yat Paol is a farmer on Madang’s North Coast. He runs a grassroots NGO aimed at linking up rural PNG communities who are using their land to build small businesses.  Rather than selling off their land, and their children’s future, to a logger or miner. Journalist Andrew Pascoe interviewed him.

“This model of development, this alternative from the outside, that’s aggressively being promoted and pushed by the government and all the other powers – including the financial institutions on the outside, the Australian government with AusAID, aid programs by other governments also, and even some NGOs who buy into these programs like poverty reduction and that garbage – they say we are a poor country, we are a starving people.

I plant my own food and I eat it from my own land. I catch fish from my own river. We get it free. We get it free, we don’t buy it, so what do you need $1 a day for? I don’t need that garbage. And I’m not alone in that thinking.

Our own model of development is already there. We’re already having it. I’m living in my village. I’m OK. I can live for up to a week without a kina or a toea, without spending one toea. Everything I need is there already. That’s our model of development which our government and the powers that be lose sight of, they’re blind to that, turning a blind eye to that. The real model of development that is ours, that has sustained us for 50,000 years or more. And now we have this alternative model of development that’s come in and is aggressively promoted.

The government and all these who are supporting this model of development, this outside model of development, they forget that people are living their lives. Life still goes on in the villages. People don’t need your big money. People don’t need your big industry – big, so-called ‘development’. We have marketable produce all over the country. We are not poor people. And I don’t believe this garbage about poverty reduction — not in this country. Papua New Guinea is evergreen. We have everything.

So whose interest is this model of development serving? It’s serving big business, it’s serving the Government through the taxes, and those corrupt politicians and high level executives who steal all the money, most of the money, anyway. And their bosses: the foreign governments and the aid programs, international financial institutions, who think they are doing good, for the so-called developing nations. So it’s benefiting rich people – not us, on the ground. I’m saying us because I am part of that now.

The only thing we need is good roads, accessibility to the markets. That’s the only thing – access to markets and services. To goods and services that we cannot produce ourself. That’s basically what we really need.

I believe in agriculture. But agriculture in our terms, agriculture that we the people can be in control of, not some foreigner-controlled agriculture project. Whatever we can farm ourself, of course with technical support, and some finance from the outside, but we do it ourself, and we control it. Like cocoa, or our buai, even tobacco. Those are money makers. We don’t need to buy this British American produced tobacco, we have our own local tobacco. And buai, that’s a big money maker. They talk about ‘informal’ sector. What’s informal? That’s what’s sustaining us, economically and socially. That’s the only sector that sustains us financially and socially, not the so-called formal sector. What is it doing?

I’m optimistic, because I see that people are not sleeping. They don’t need no government to come with their development model. They are tilling their land. They are cultivating their land. They’re making small business. Of course they need outsider support. For them to be able to manage, because managing cash economy is something that’s new for us. We need skills to be able to manage it and grow the business. This is small-to-medium kind business, not big business, not industries. Management skills and also processing kakao, we can make our own chocolate on a small scale. If the government is serious about its people, it should make that possible to happen, I think that’s the work of government, to be able to facilitate that. If its really serious about being a government for the people, by the people, and of the people, that’s the real work of the government.

And our constitutional founders saw that. The constitutional planning committee, they saw that our strength is in our land, in our cultural heritage, and in our artistic talents that’s ours. I think that’s the key. It’s in our blood. We are farmers. We discovered farming 10,000 years ago, so that’s in our blood. We don’t need no alternative to come and teach us how to farm. Our people are farming already.”

Our Pacific Ways reflects on Our Pacific traditions for inspiration to move Our Pacific People forward.

It challenges the current systems of exploitation and asks: What if we did things Our Pacific Way?

What if we told you that Our Ancestors were the best navigators using the sun and the stars to travel the Liquid Continent?

What if we told you they were the best naval architects who built ocean-going vessels for international commerce between our island nations?

What if we told you that agriculture developed here first independent of any outside influence?

What if we told you that Our Ancestors lived in harmony with nature before the rest of the world knew anything about sustainable development?

What if we told you that tuberculosis and leprosy were introduced to Our People?

What if we told you that land was stolen from Our People to build Churches?

What if we told you that Colonial Administrations hung Our People in public the same way Blacks were lynched in America?

What if we told you that Fiji became independent when it overthrew the British Monarchy and that Solomon Islands is a colony of Australia?

What if we told you of the French domination of the Polynesia and the violation of Hawaiian sovereignty by the United States?

What if we told you of Nuclear testing and the displacement of Our People?

What if we told you about neo-colonization and the systematic exploitation of Our People and Our Resources?

WHAT IF… WE NEVER TOLD YOU?

….And so with-in the contemporary context of the Pacific it is now up to us to define Our Ways Pacific Ways as opposed to the failed model of development that is witnessed with the collapse of western economies.

Our Pacific Ways of land management should allow every generation to have a say about how land is used.

Our Pacific Ways of resource management should allow every generation to have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of those resources.

Our Pacific ways of trade and communications should enable individuals, communities and nations to foster relationships that are mutually beneficial.

Our Pacific ways of Banking should safeguard and create wealth for us as opposed to speculating with our savings elsewhere

Our Pacific Ways of Governance should empower individuals and communities to lead and to hold leaders to account.

Our Pacific Ways of International relations should be between equal partners  and not of neo-colonism, gun boat or checkbook diplomacy.

Our Pacific Ways of education should be one of empowerment of people and not of creating misfits in society.

Our Pacific Ways of healthcare should be one of community based solutions and not just about treating individuals.

Our Pacific Ways of Agriculture and Food Security should recognize our agricultural heritage as our strength and knowledge base

We live in a part of the world that has huge potential but is currently being subjected to a model of development that only allows for a few elite and money-men to prosper at the expense of the vast majority of our people.

The only way out is Our Pacific Way!