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Empowering Women in Agriculture through Mentoring

This success story written by Michelle Jambui, Fulbright scholar graduate student, is part of the "Young women and Youth's Gender Perspectives in Agricultural Development" series that spotlight young professionals' experiences for women's empowerment in agricultural development. From research to private sector, mass media to civil society work, YPARD 2015 Gender series will feature, every month, young "gender champions" from different regions of the world. This series is part of YPARD work as special youth catalyst in the GAP : Gender in Agriculture Partnership.

My journey in gender empowerment…

… Started in 2006 when I was awarded a New Zealand aid scholarship on empowering women in agriculture. The scholarship was focused on women taking up tertiary education in the agricultural field.

I was fortunate to earn that scholarship for the four years I was doing my undergraduate studies in Tropical Agriculture at the Papua New Guinea University of Natural Resources and Environment.

Mentoring women in agricultural development

I have witnessed what mentoring has done for me in my success and achievement and that is one way I am taking to mentor other women involved in agriculture back in PNG.

My work in agriculture involved mentoring farmers through both formal and informal trainings, providing education and marketing opportunities to better their livelihoods through increased production in livestock and crops to benefit and improve their livelihood and family.

Empowering women in agriculture not only enables them to help their families but also the communities around them.

Meeting the person who changed my life

In 2008, I made up my mind to concentrate on the field of animal science just out of curiosity. Thus I decided to do a research project on animal and chickens in particular, as part of my student training requirement.

This curiosity for animal science was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am glad to have taken this step and have loved working in this field ever since. 

My mentoring began when I walked into the then Dean of School, Professor Alan Quartermain’s office to ask for help in finding a place in the industry for me to do a 6 month training. Little did I know that, this person would change my life through his mentorship. 

Getting a job in chickens

After I graduated in 2010, I was offered a job as a technical officer in the University I graduated in and where I worked under his leadership.  I did research work on chickens with him supervising my work.

I mainly focused on Australorp chickens and their crosses with commercial hybrid lines. It was an opportunity to provide an alternative egg laying crossbred chicken for farmers due to the increased cost of buying commercial lines which are expensive and required high management input from the farmers.

Women farmers & Poultry Farming

One of the issues farmers faced was accessibility, availability and affordability of the commercial lines and the research was to provide an alternative breed for farmers that was accessible and affordable for them.

The findings from my work did provide information on the success and performance of this crosses that eventually led to increased interest from farmers and especially women who took poultry farming and made substantial economic progress from the sale of eggs from their farms.

Women farmers have reported increased interest and participation in farming using these chickens which was a profitable enterprise. These have led to economic growth, social well being, food security for the families who depend on agriculture for survival, which in PNG accounts for an estimated 70% of the population.

Engaging women in Floriculture

My engagement in ‘Vudal Women in Agriculture’ cooperative society has also enabled me to help women who are interested in floriculture. I’ve had the chance to train them in post-harvest management as well as different farmers on different market opportunities such as farmer markets, office flower arrangements, floral services, backyard landscaping services, flower decoration on major events such as graduation days and special events.

This has provided them with the avenue to market their beautiful flowers and service in their own community and eventually outside their community.

Mentorship – The key for women-in-ag progress

Women empowerment in agriculture need to be mentored by professionals that not only to provide training, information exchange, but that are able as well to give them confidence to walk in the same shoes they were in before them.

I would not have done what I did without the help of my mentor. I believe empowering women through having a mentor will go a long way in helping women progress in the agricultural sector. That is what I have done and hope to continue to do in my contribution to gender in agriculture empowerment. 

Click here to read:

  1. Shaping my future in Gender, Agriculture and Global Development, by Moses Owiny, Project Officer with the Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET);
  2. "While frustrating at times, challenges do make me far more passionate and determined", by Afrina Choudhury, Gender Specialist at the WorldFish
  3. Agriculture has managed to change my career, by Wouedjie Alice-Norraa lawyer who works at the Cameroon youth Initiative for Rural Development, CAMYIRD;
  4. A young spirit in search of change, by Anauim Valerín Pérez, a young journalist and environmental activist. 
  5. AltroPaesaggio - Empowering Gypsy Women through Urban Agricultureby Luisa Cartesio, coordinator of the project "Orticulturom" within the association AltroPaesaggio;
  6. Supporting Sinai Bedouin Women through Agriculture and Handicrafts, by Yasmeen Atta, founder of  the Youth Sinai Foundation for Development and Human Rights and the Youth Sinai Development Company.