The determination of a small group of women from the local community near the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant is sustaining the livelihood of more than ten community groups.
Established in 2019, the Paija Ipa Women's Agribusiness Group is now a fresh produce supplier to Hides Alliance Group (HAG), which supplies ExxonMobil PNG's Hides Conditioning Plant.
Paija Ipa Group leader Serah Tindipaya recalled that life for the Hides womenfolk was previously much different.
"We used to see truckloads of vegetables coming from outside of Hela, and always asked ourselves why can't we produce such high-quality vegetables?"
Paija Ipa is one of many groups at Hides that are mobilising into more enterprise-focused opportunities with the EMPNG-initiated Community Livelihood Improvement Program (CLIP).
"Our vision was to take fresh produce growing and marketing beyond just opportunistic selling in local markets, to a more organised and cooperative production and marketing model with their five-year business plan."
A typical market day involves the women checking orders, writing receipts, and preparing invoices for Hides Alliance Group. Other people in the community watched with excitement how their sisters and mothers were involved.
"We knew how to grow vegetables, but due to the more advanced production and business skills training from the CLIP team we now know how to grow vegetables for the market. We have become small entrepreneurs and are empowering others in the community with the confidence to help themselves," said Sarah.
In September 2020, the group had harvested over 55,800 kilograms from 37 different markets. They then sold their harvest to HAG, which now enables the women with a regular income.
Seeing the local potential to supply HAG with fresh produce, Serah and her husband Eliezer Rondo began training other farmers in the local community.
"I am so thankful to the CLIP team for their ongoing support, without CLIP we would not have come this far. EMPNG’s support for CLIP and local communities is having a real positive impact here in Hela.”