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Young Farmers Lead the Way – Off-Season Vegetable Production

Kevin Gabriel of Jiwaka Province was able to attend training in Fiji on off-season cropping of fruit and vegetables. On returning home, he used his experiences in Fiji to form the Jiwaka Youth in Agriculture Association and put his learning into practice. Today, the Jiwaka Youth in Agriculture Association are involved in many agricultural projects including capsicum, watermelon, papaya and cabbage. They also have a gender equality component to their work, making sure young women farmers have opportunities and are welcomed.

Early on, one of their commodity groups, the capsicum farmers, managed to secure themselves a contract to supply a local retail outlet twice a week. This regular source of year round income provided a steady wage to the young farmers, which helped them to get started on a better life for themselves and their families.

Three years later and Kevin and the Jiwaka Youth have grown to around 250 members, from their initial 25, and they now have contracts for both capsicum and watermelon. They are supplying 1000kg of capsicum every week, and 600kg of watermelons every fortnight to one of the largest supermarket chains in Papua New Guinea. It should be mentioned that this is the first time that watermelons have been successfully produced in the highlands of PNG, having previously been a
crop only of the coastal areas.

Kevin still feels that his team are a semi-commercial operation and is pushing towards going fully commercial and securing contracts in other provinces. To do this they are looking to make Photo Credit: Jiwaka Youth in Agriculture better use of information and communication technologies as a way of connecting with new markets. To support this, the national implementing agency for the MTCP2 programme in Papua New Guinea has been able to connect them with a training opportunity on E-Agriculture run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

In fact, Maria Linibi, from the PNG National Implementing Agency has been a regular advisor and supporter of Kevin and the Jiwaka Youth over the years and follows their progress very closely. Learn more of Maria’s story below, and how she has taken on the role of the National Implementing Agency for Papua New Guinea in a very pro-active way.

Meanwhile, these regular contracts are paying off for the Jiwaka Youth and many of them are now able to build proper houses for their families. There has also been a noticeable shift in how Kevin and the other young farmers are treated in their communities. Their successful farming activities haven’t gone unnoticed and people now treat the youth farmers with more respect and listen to them when they speak.

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