EU-STREIT PNG equips 307 local fish farmers including youths and women in the rural Sepik River community of Papua New Guinea with knowledge and skills in riverine fishing and agribusiness as well as addressing gender-based violence.
To build and enhance the capacity of fisher groups, including youths and women folks with necessary skills in riverine fishing as well as to run an agribusiness, the FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG Programme conducted 15 days of intensive training in three separate locations of East Sepik Province which brought together 307 fish farmers inclusion of youths and women.
The trainings which comprised many theory and practical sessions to ensure participants are well equipped with technical know-how and skills started in Chambri Lakes area of Wosera-Gawi District with fishers from 10 wards and continued onto Murik Lakes and Angriman areas in Angoram District.
To ensure gender and youth participation as an important focus of this rural agriculture development programme, the villagers were also sensitised on the importance of mainstreaming gender perspectives in value chains, particularly the critical roles, responsibilities and untapped potentials of women in agri-rural communities and also on root causes of gender-based violence and its mitigation through inclusion at all nodes.
The sessions on riverine fishing covered the biology and life cycle of fish (Tilapia as a case study), gillnet application and maintenance, net mending, rope works for different knots for different riverine activities applications, general maintenance of boat engines and processing of fresh fish on-boat.
Job Opu, the Programme’s National Fisheries Officer who facilitated the training said: “The people are very happy with the training because according to their testimonies, they have learned many skills and acquired knowledge to improve fish production. The turnout was equally impressive.”
To support and strengthen Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the fisheries value chain, the executives of Chambri Lake Fisheries Cooperative were also sensitised on the need for youth and women to engage in business group management. The villagers were explained the importance of women’s participation in group decision-making and also advised to organise into cohesive community such as youth councils and women’s groups, thereby enabling women and youth to engage and benefit equally from fisheries activities supported under the Programme.
The chairperson of Chambri Lake Fishing Cooperative, Andrew Pekul extended his appreciation of the support extended by the EU-STREIT PNG Programme and said: “Rural people are looking for new information and ideas and this is the first learning opportunity where villagers, including youths and women, have been given the opportunity to speak out and be heard on how they can undertake fishing business and improve their fishing practices. Riverine fishing is the lifeline of the Sepik River communities.”
The sessions on Mainstreaming Gender Perspectives and Youth Inclusion in the fisheries value chain ensured that every member in a family unit or household is sensitised properly on cultural gender norms and practices that lead to equality. The particiapnts were sensitised on the gender roles and responsibilities that encourage equal gender and youth participation in agribusinesses along the fisheries value chain.
Commonly, women and girls play a dominant role in riverine fishing, including processing and marketing of fish. With this insight, a rights-based approach was applied to brainstorm on family units and gender-based constraints with a focus on individual roles and responsibilities. This was done to ensure that training participants understood their roles and responsibilities within a family unit and how they could support each other.
Fish is an essential part of the daily diet of the riverine communities in the Greater Sepik Region in Papua New Guinea. It is also a reliable source of regular income for smallholders in the area. In the low-altitude communities in the region, fish consumption is the most important source of protein, comprising around 40% of all food from animal sources.
The FAO-led EU-STREIT Programme in Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) and provincial divisions of Fisheries & Agriculture, provides support to sustainably increase productivity and profitability of fish while also contributing significantly to food security and nutrition at the household level. The support includes strong investment in developing the capacity as well as the introduction of improved practices, techniques, equipment and facilities for better production, processing, and marketing of fish among fishing communities, fisheries enterprises, and relevant government institutions. The Programme is also committed to facilitating the access of fisheries communities to the markets and assisting them in improving existing transport safety and equipment.
The EU-STREIT PNG, being implemented as a United Nations Joint Programme (FAO as the leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as implementing partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region.
The Programme focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through increasing the economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains and strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers including the business environment and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development.