Ekanda Hole, member of the Imini clan, lives in Belopa Village, Hides, Hela Province, where he relies on substance agriculture for his livelihood.
Traditionally, the role of Huli men is to dig ditches, make fences, and build houses, while women garden and care for livestock.
Despite this, Ekanda dreamed of harvesting vegetables but didn’t have the seeds or skills to follow through.
An invitation from the Community Livelihood Improvement Project (CLIP) program group leader, Pastor Akilo, gave Ekanda an opportunity to learn more about agriculture and receive the crop seeds needed to get started.
After growing them all, Ekanda decided to focus on peanuts and African yams – a vegetable he had never seen or heard of before.
To help him get started, Ekanda participated in training sessions where he was taught how to cut tubers (roots) into many pieces and treat them with ashes in preparation for planting in a nursery for sprouting. Sprouts were then planted in large trenches and filled with compost to grow and mature.
Along the way, Ekanda became curious about what the harvest would produce, and why such a big hole was needed for such a tiny piece of yam tuber.
Eight months later, he learnt the answer… Ekanda returned to the CLIP program to learn the correct method for digging and harvesting a yam. To his and his fellow participant’s surprise, a huge yam the size of the hole was pulled from the ground.
Inspired by the result, Ekanda decided then and there he will become an African yam farmer.
Receiving one small piece of cubed yam seedling from CLIP, Ekanda headed home, planted, prepared, and harvested very large yams just as he was taught – taking them to the Hides Alliance Group market and selling.
Recently, Ekanda calculated he has sold about 150kg of African yams at Kapote (Hides) market. Profits from sales have enabled him to hire a vehicle to transport his crop and continue preparing tubers – with 50 more ready to be harvested and sold. Ekanda is excited by his results and plans to continue harvesting African yams.
“I don’t understand why young men are just roaming around playing cards, fighting, drinking beer and all these other activities that are not profitable. If I were a young man, I would supply all the vegetables.
Money is in the ground, money is not like sand or pebbles where you can just pick anywhere while roaming around. Men are not realising that,” he said.
“I wish to produce English potatoes and will multiply and make it big like what I am doing with the yams. I am looking for seeds and if CLIP team can help me, I will be grateful.”
Since 2015, CLIP has helped community members improve their livelihoods and standards of living by generating household and group income from small enterprise development.
ExxonMobil PNG has invested K8 million in CLIP since 2015. The project has reached 700 people from 20 community groups in Hides, Komo and Angore in the Hela Province.