Final Assessment Part 2: Strengthening food and nutrition security

Final Assessment Part 2: Strengthened Food and Nutrition Security

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Final Assessment Part 2: Strengthening food and nutrition security

December 18, 2022

The second component of this three-part series on sustainable integrated land management focuses on strengthening food and nutrition security in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province

Agriculture is the dominant economic activity in Enga Province, characterized by smallholder farmers producing mostly subsistence crops for household consumption combined with some cash crops. Farmers follow the ‘mixed cropping or mixed farming‘ system where diversity of food crops, fruits and nuts and vegetables are inter-planted with each other in a mixed manner often at very high densities.

Women are heavily engaged in agriculture in Enga Province and are responsible for animal husbandry, sales of garden produce at markets, planting crops, sowing seeds, seed selection and procurement, watering, weeding, pruning, harvesting, cleaning, drying, packing and transporting. Coffee production activities are undertaken by some women but due to a drop in coffee prices women face difficulties in the coffee production activities. Nearly all households rely on their own production to satisfy their food requirements. However due to climate change impacts such as flooding, food and nutrition intake worsened in the past five years.

Traditional farming is challenged by low productivity, lack of quality inputs and extension services, poor access to markets and credit, and lack of supporting infrastructure for transportation hamper the growth of agriculture sector in Enga. Other major constraints to agriculture development include crime and lawlessness, and insecurity of land ownership and tenure. The sector has also been negatively impacted by climatic and seasonal conditions in recent times, such as dramatic changes in temperatures, the onset of crop pests and disease outbreaks.

Farmers’ groups and associations can play an important role to help members increase their access to supports of information, capital, and technology; and enhance productivity and income – however local communities lack information on establishing cooperatives or farmers groups. Pests and insects are also major threats to the livelihoods of rural families and their communities in most of the study villages. All interviewed coffee farmers stated that the quality of coffee is currently low due to insects destroying the coffee beans. Few farmers use pesticides to prevent insects for destroying the coffee beans and plants due to high price of the pesticides and lack of information on proper and safe use of them.

All Engan farmers also face difficulties with obtaining credit and low prices of their crops. The provision of credit to the agriculture sector is a necessary to increase income and output. The poor condition of roads and high transportation costs also represents a major bottleneck for farmers, coffee farmers’ and households’ capacity to access more lucrative value chains.

Studies clearly indicate the need to develop gender-sensitive training when planning initiatives and projects in Enga. Men and women have clearly defined roles in rural livelihoods but so far extension and training in rural livelihoods has focused on the needs of men. Women are constrained from taking advantage of extension and training schemes due to their relatively poor literacy and educational levels, as well as due to cultural reasons and because of the high workloads associated with their roles in economic livelihoods and gardening, in addition to household chores, childcare, and community care.

Strengthening women’s economic opportunities in agriculture requires more than improving access to land, finance, markets, and transport, however, or simply ‘adding’ activities to women’s already busy lives. Another important issue is working with men in order raise their awareness on gender equity. A failure to consider the changes needed for both women and men in household responsibilities and local norms and values can lead to pushback or, even worse, backlash.