Gina Koczberski and Merolyn Koia (PNG Oil Palm Research Association) attended the “Seeds of Change” conference in Canberra in April this year. The conference was jointly funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), CGIAR and the University of Canberra. The three day conference with its focus on gender and gender equity in agricultural research and development covered a diverse range of themes and topics in the field of agriculture, from subsistence agriculture to cash cropping. Gina and collaborating researchers1 submitted a poster on the Mama Lus Frut Scheme (MLF) in Papua New Guinea. The MLF scheme started twenty years ago in the oil palm growing areas of West New Britain Province, to introduce a more gender equitable payment system for female smallholders. The payment system pays women separately from their husbands for their work on family-owned oil palm plots. The scheme improved women’s access to oil palm income and provided a basis upon which household domestic and productive relations were restructured to benefit women and their families (Koczberski 2007). Gina Koczberski and co-researchers from PNG Oil Palm Research Association and OPIC extension officers are currently completing an evaluation of the MLF to assess the effectiveness of the scheme after twenty years and its impact on household production and the social and economic outcomes for women and smallholder households. The poster presented the recent preliminary findings to highlight the long-term socio-economic changes resulting from the scheme in terms of: women’s economic empowerment; household and social relations: women’s agency and the integration of women into extension delivery. The poster also outlined the current challenges and lessons learnt from this long-established scheme for designing policies aimed at promoting more equitable extension initiatives for women.
- Merolyn Koia (PNG OPRA) and extension officers Elizabeth Rawa and Jacqueline Kalamafrom the Oil Palm Industry Corporation, Nahavio, WNB, PNG