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Project starts to lift Sepik lives
SUSSIE Noguru is a woman on a mission.
From Banak Village, Dagua LLG, East Sepik, Susie is organising cocoa farmers to participate in the Streit (Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade) PNG programme that is supporting communities to revitalise existing economic opportunities.
Sussie’s introduction to Streit and the opportunities it presents came when she took part in a training to clone cocoa trees.
With two hectares of cocoa trees to rehabilitate, Sussie is “grateful that our provincial government has partnered with the programme to help us learn these skills.”
The K340 million project is the largest European Union-funded programme in the Pacific and focuses on the value-chain development of cocoa, vanilla and fisheries in the Sepik provinces with a specific focus on women, youth and rural development.
European Union ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Jernej Videtič said of the funding, “Team Europe is proud to contribute to a project which, although starting in difficult conditions because of the Covid-19 pandemic, has already made some good progress and given renewed opportunities and prospects to the citizen of PNG.
Together with the Government we are assessing the possibility to fine-tune the activities to provide added support to the rural population to lessen the burden induced by the restriction of international movement of goods for export-oriented activities.”
Sussie is now an active model farmer and organises other farmers in her village to be registered with the Investment Promotion Authority and the Cocoa Board, so that they can receive support under Streit PNG.
Over in West Sepik a formidable couple, Martin and Scholar Wiro of Bini village, Palai LLG, Nuku District are wasting no time putting their new skills to use.
Having successfully budded 32 cocoa seedlings, the Wiros will be rehabilitating their four-hectare cocoa plantation and are looking forward to an increase in production and income.
“Cocoa is an important source of income for my family,” said Scholar. “With our new skills we will replace ageing cocoa trees and with increased income we will pay for our children’s school fees. My husband and I want our children to have a better education and a good future.”
The cocoa propagation trainings in the two Sepik provinces were conducted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO in collaboration with the Cocoa Board and the provincial Department of Agriculture and Livestock. These trainings are aimed at increasing sustainable production and inclusiveness of the cocoa value chain by building the capacity of farmers. Participants learn the different budding techniques, skills to assess and rehabilitate aging and infected cocoa trees with the cocoa pod borer (CPB)-tolerant cocoa clone seedlings.
A staunch advocate of Streit PNG, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird describes the five-year programme as ‘the new development paradigm for the Sepiks.’ He has experienced the impact of a booming vanilla industry in East Sepik and wants a bigger and better comeback for his province.
The FAO is leading the UN support in implementing Streit. During a recent visit to East Sepik by UN resident coordinator, Gianluca Rampolla, Governor Bird said he believed this programme would go a long way in not only rehabilitating and upgrading existing cocoa, vanilla and fish farms in the province, but also help create bigger and better farms that have more value for money in global markets.
Rampolla was accompanied by the FAO Papua New Guinea country representative, Ken Shimizu, and a team from the Department of National Planning and Monitoring for the duration of the mission to Wewak and Vanimo.
The objective of the mission to the Sepik provinces was to assess and monitor the impact of Covid-19 on the progress of the EU-funded programme, and the preparedness and impact of Covid-19 on food security to explore re-prioritisation of interventions in the Sepiks.
“We are excited to be part of a programme that will transform lives, and set a milestone in achieving the Government’s objective of diversifying its economic base through agro-business. In our discussion with provincial governments and communities, we have identified interventions that will have immediate impact on the livelihoods of border communities affected the most by existing restrictions,” Rampolla said.
During their trip, Rampolla and Shimizu visited the Hawain cocoa nursery where 28,000 cocoa seedlings are currently in budding under Streit that will soon be distributed to eager farmers.
In West Sepik, Governor Tony Wouwou, also a man familiar with the potential of the agricultural industry, not only shared similar sentiments to Bird, he is working closely with the East Sepik governor to ensure that both provinces fully benefit from Streit PNG.
On separate occasions during the mission, Shimizu was able to ascertain the relevance of this programme in discussions with the governors by reiterating that “Streit is quite and is unlike any other traditional FAO programmes as there are soft and hard components to this programme that enables complete development of the value-chain of an agriculture commodity.”
Hence, there is immense opportunity to see tangible transformations in both East and West Sepik through this agriculture value chain development programme.
With this multifaceted project that goes beyond just agriculture development, the UN as an implementing partner to the Government is taking a multi-agency approach in supporting the rollout of Streit PNG.
Skills and capacities from FAO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will complement the Government’s drive to ensure that families such as Sussie’s and the Wiros’ achieve their dream of a sustainable economic future.
Once bitten, twice shy
I MET my child’s father, a handsome single father and fell in love.
In fact I fell in love with his kids before I fell in love with him!
It was a fairytale; I had kids to love and raise as my own and a man that cared for me. Well that’s what I had thought. I fell pregnant with our child, his fifth child and second daughter.
We both left our jobs and started a company together. Things were great until after few months into my pregnancy when I found out he was cheating on me. I was hurt, sad and angry but scared of the fact that I couldn’t take care of our child on my own.
As months went by, the cheating continued and the beating got worse but I stayed for my child. I tried to kill myself but every time I overdosed, I was rushed to the hospital and soon was back at home again.
I fought with women he cheated with and every time I was wrong to him and his family. But I stayed because of my child.
When my daughter was almost two years old, I tried one last suicide attempt and as I was falling to the floor, I could hear my baby calling mommy, mommy! Then the voice faded away. I was unconscious on the floor.
Next thing I woke up to was being in hospital and my brother in-law and his wife whom I was so close to, there beside me and no sign of my baby’s father. I guess he was too busy with his girlfriend who (mind you) was a relative of mine.
I got home and packed our things, my baby’s and mine. We slept outside on the verandah for a month, and I would see him come home, drunk and angry but I still did my part and prepared his meals and washed his clothes. I was still being his wife and the mother of his child/children until he belted me up for the last time before I decided I was going to take my child and leave.
I found a place, got the paperwork done and went to his office to see him. When I gave him the papers to read and sign me a cheque so I could pay rent for myself and my daughter, he cried and asked me to stay back.
He was sorry and said he would change but I wasn’t going to give in that easily. I told him, it was better I took my baby and went or end up killing myself and my baby. So he let us go. He paid our rent and gave us money to survive.
He thought I would never get a job and just be a useless person like he always told me but to his surprise, I got a job. I was working and he came asking me to still be his wife.
I told him to get out of my house and my life. There were times he cut us off our allowance but that did not stop me from growing stronger for my baby. We fought and argued a lot but I was not going to let him make me feel small, worthless and useless again.
I was going to grow strong and stand on my own for my baby. But he never stopped paying our rent. By then, he had already moved on with someone else and left that other woman who was now pregnant with his child. I didn’t let that bother me. I was too busy enjoying my life, just me and my baby.
Years had gone by and I forgave him. I told him we would only communicate when it came to our child and nothing more, and that I would not take him to court or fight with him over our child.
I told him, “I know, you’re a good father but a bad husband.”
Then eventually, things changed. We were friends that had each other’s back. He would tell me about his relationship and I would listen and advise him. As years passed, he and his partner, now his third wife, separated after having two children together.
Oh, I loved those kids. I would always do good to them but their mother would mistreat my baby. That hurt me so much but I didn’t let that change me and the person inside me. I was a loving and caring person who loved and treated all his children equally.
As my baby grew older, her father decided to take her overseas to school. I was going to be alone. I had my baby all these year’s and he was just going to take her away from me. But, I thought and prayed for strength and courage to let my baby go.
Mind you, I never remarried after leaving her father. I stayed a single mother and loved only my baby. No one was going to separate us. We were glued together. Until the news came that my baby had to go.
That year I met my now husband. I told my baby and she was happy. I told her that I was pregnant and she cried and told me, “Mommy that baby will take all your love away from me.”
I cried and told her, “baby, mommy will always love you and your baby brother or sister. Don’t think this baby will stop me from loving you.”
Then she said “but mom, I’m here faraway and that baby will be next to you. Why are you doing this to me mommy? Now we’re not glued together anymore.”
Oh my heart broke but I explained to her that she was my first love and would always be my baby not matter what.
Months went by and I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I sent pictures to my eldest baby’s father and told him to show them to her.
I gave my second baby the name her big sister had proposed.
Three months went by and my big girl came for holidays. She was so happy to meet her baby sister for the first time. By this time, I was working for my daughter’s father.
He only trusted me to watch his business while he was away. I proved to him that I could look after his company and properties.
You see, no one ever understood our relationship. My ex-husband and my current husband both understand that I have two beautiful daughters with them and the only ties I have with my ex is work and our child.
My current husband is a loving, caring man and I’m so glad God blessed me with the best. We aren’t the perfect couple but when it comes to the girls, their fathers are always around with me.
We (my husband and second baby) have lunches and dinners when my eldest daughter and her family come for holidays.
Life is full of surprises. I thought these two men would never see eye to eye or get get along but they do.
And as long as my babies are loved and cared for by myself and their fathers, I am happy.