By Soldier Buruka
The rapid rise of HIV/AIDS in the lives of the PNG population indicates that there will be a direct effect on food security in families and households. When the AIDS epidemic touches the lives of those infected and affected, it will impact on financial, social and to some extent the natural and physical resources.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a global crisis which demands urgent attention, commitment and sustainable actions by all stakeholders, civil society, private sector, government organisations, non-government organisations, women and youth groups, churches, and individuals. Many people know the negative implications of HIV/AIDS but yet they are ignorant. Their ignorance is a major course of the rapid increase in the epidemic in PNG.
Agricultural workers must take on the challenges to address this epidemic because the majority of the population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. The agriculture sector is the backbone of the economy and it is important that HIV/AIDS is kept under control before it destroys farmers and their families.
Agricultural production and income in households and plantation industries are reduced when HIV/AIDS incapacitates persons with critical skills. Human resources development is affected when organisations lose people with specific skills and knowledge or reliable and hard working.
The Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) has finalised a HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy which is yet to be officially launched. This policy document stands to ensure that there is a consistent and equitable approach in the prevention of HIV/AIDS among farmers and their families, and to the management of the consequences of HIV/AIDS including care and support of staff members living with HIV/AIDS.
Various divisions and sections of DAL have already undertaken awareness and campaigns to educate the extension officers, farmers and the agriculture workforce.
Didiman and didimeris throughout the country have been reminded of their duty to support the HIV/AIDs campaign within the agriculture sector. They are expected to work closely with other public servants, private sector workers and others to inform and educate farmers and their families about the importance of safe sex practices to avoid HIV/AIDS.
During last week’s World Aids Day celebrations, DAL staff in Port Moresby marched from their headquarters at Konedobu to Elevala village where they joined hundreds of others in the Motu-Koita community to listen to messages on HIV/AIDS, and participate in drama and awareness programs.