PNG women engaged in coffee value chain have just established a network to enhance greater partnership and support for each other to see change in the value chain. Mid last month, 50 women leaders in coffee gathered at the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC) in Goroka and established the ‘PNG Women in Coffee’ network, though an inaugural conference from October 15-18 2012, under the auspicious of CIC.
The objective of the PNG Women in Coffee was to help women who are involved in the coffee value chain establish a forum through which they can share their experiences, learn from each other, network with local and global peer groups, grow together and affect change.
Sallyn Lomutopa, a coffee plantation owner in Eastern Highlands was appointed interim president of PNG Women in Coffee.
Chief Executive Officer of CIC, Navi Anis, said that his organisation was taking a paradigm shift in its approach to providing research and extension services to its stakeholders including women. He said CIC’s strategic plan 2008 – 2018 encourages full participation of all coffee stakeholders.
The conference theme, “Recognising the Role of Women in Coffee”, was coined to give emphasis on the status quo; being that there are women who are already engaged in the coffee value chain as coffee stakeholders, however how can these group of stakeholders be empowered to affect value adding along the chain.
The Women in Coffee initiative has its origin in the way CIC, a responsive and corporate entity, carries out its mandated roles and responsibilities since its establishment. The emphasis became more pronounced throughout the planning process of CIC’s 10 year Strategic Plan (2008 – 2010). Questions such as who are coffee stakeholders and how can CIC facilitate for their full participation in the coffee value chain constantly came up.
Coffee is a household crop. PNG women have been involved in the coffee crop from when coffee was first introduced into PNG in the late 19 century. Women have since played an important role in coffee husbandry alongside other crops in PNGs diverse cropping systems.
Today, the PNG coffee industry is smallholder based and up to 379 000 coffee households are actively engaged in coffee production, with an estimated 1,500 trees per household. It is a known fact that small holder agriculture activities are synonymously women’s activity and as such, coffee as a crop is no exception.
In contemporary PNG, it is evident that women are venturing into small holder (1-5 hectares), block holding (5-15 hectares) and plantation (more than 15 hectares) and value adding. This has necessitated for appropriate coffee knowledge management and exposure at a different level. With changing and emerging roles, women coffee stakeholders ought to be supported appropriately. A shift in focus and on the role of women is one intervention towards creating greater synergies for industry efficiencies.
The international coffee market is also increasingly becoming more responsive to Coffees of Origin (i.e social aspects of coffee, including involvement of women).
Meanwhile, the immediate outcomes of the conference were;
(i) Recognise the role of Women in Coffee value chains
(ii) Assert networking, partnerships and collaborations
(iii) Increase awareness of issues affecting women in coffee,
(iv) Increased awareness on opportunities available to women in coffee,
(v) PNG Women in Coffee organisation proposed and agreed to, and
(vi) Interim office bearers nominated and voted and Action Plan drafted and endorsed.
Other members of the interim executive:- Vice President – Anna Vilau of Trader (Jiwaka); Treasurer – Marie Yogiyo of Bauka Coffee (Aiyura); and Secretary – Elizabeth Toliman of Boana (Morobe).
The PNG Women in Coffee aims to formalise this platform by first quarter of 2013.