Innov4AgPacific celebrates with all Pacific partners in our joint efforts to support women’s full participation and empowerment for building stronger and more resilient communities, improving incomes and nutrition outcomes, and higher performing local food crops and fisheries value chains. We have exceeded our target of 30% representation and have an actual engagement of about 50% women’s participation across our project activities. With this article we want to acknowledge their commitment and leadership in working towards better nutrition and incomes in the Pacific Islands in different spheres:
Women Leadership in Nutrition
Seven out of our eight ongoing community agriculture-nutrition-income projects, reaching 5,000 households across six Pacific Island countries, are led by women, who have a strong vision for their communities and the leadership roles women can play in addressing the double burden of malnutrition. “NCDs are preventable and reversible”
“Our ‘Garden to Plate’ program has about 300 women motivated in doing their organic back yard gardens. We are also running training courses on value addition for food security and there has been a lot of interest in solar drying of fruits and making local flours.” – Sashi Kiran, Director, FRIEND Fiji
Participants during the kick-off meeting of FRIEND’s Innov4AgPacific Community Nutrition Seed funding project ‘Garden to Plate – Integrated Backyard Gardening for a Holistic Approach to Income and Health’.
“We need to harness the opportunities to empowering families, men and women farmers; strengthening the connection to markets and income generation and shifting preferences back to nutritionally dense foods.” Gillian Steward, Women in Business Development, Samoa, leader of the Innov4AgPacific Community Nutrition Seed funding project ‘Strengthening the Organic Agriculture Production, Income & Nutrition Local Supply Chain Nexus in Samoa’.
Ione de Brum (yellow dress, middle), Mayor of Ebon Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands and leader of the Innov4AgPacific Community Nutrition Seed Funding project ‘Improving Local Food Production for Livelihood and Import Substitution in Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands’ says, “In order to increase consumption of nutritious local food crops, we need to support more nutrition education and school gardening programmes, cooking demonstrations, income generating activities and capacity building e.g. showing the nutritional content and other benefits of added value products like breadfruit or taro flour.”
Women Leadership in Agribusiness
“Women are custodians of fisheries and agricultural knowledge, but they do not have enough decision-making power and face many barriers to business opportunities”. The Innov4AgPacific Innovation Grant Facility (IGF), supports Pacific SMEs to take the next step and grow their agribusiness. It not only directly benefits women SME owners but also indirectly women farmers. For example, Votausi MacKenzie-Reur, Director, Lapita Café leads the Innov4AgPacific IGF project ‘Marketing, Website Development & Acquisition of processing equipment (Nangai Nut and Manioc Flour)’ to create additional demand for local crops. She is sourcing her products from around 1,225 farmers. “I believe we need to show the world we have beautiful products that we can add value to, so that we can replace some of the imported foodstuffs Pacific people are eating. I also believe it is important to support local farmers who produce these wonderful products.”
Women Leadership in ICT4Ag
Digitalization is seen as the next engine of agricultural transformation. Many Pacific Islands communities, including women in rural areas and outer islands, face an information gap in accessing information, expert advice, and real-time support.
Dr Irene Yee Chief (USP Centre for Flexible Learning) and Ateca Kama (Director, National Food and Nutrition Council, Fiji), were one of the three winning teams of the 2018 Innov4AgPacific Agri-Hack competition. They received an award to scale-up their “MyKana App” which provides nutrition information. A backyard gardening component will be added to the existing app, that will allow users not only to access nutrition advice but to receive additional support in establishing and maintaining their own garden to grow local nutritious vegetables and fruits.
Women Leadership in Capacity Development of Farmers’ Organization
The Innov4AgPacific project focuses on capacity development and creating space to discuss critical issues in order to increase visibility as well as strengthen women in their leadership roles. This is done through providing women with training opportunities as well as inviting them to speak out and actively participate during national and regional workshops and therefore influence policy processes.
Jiu Daunivalu, CEO, Fiji Crop and Livestock Council, Fiji, who has been supported to participate in a three-week international training on “Organizing Farmers as Partners in Agribusiness” says “after my training experience in the Netherlands, my perspective on the role of FCLC has changed significantly, with more emphasis now placed on farmers and their organisations. An important lesson learned, is to be in the ‘shoes of farmers’, to thoroughly assess and understand the farmers and their organisations, identify their issues, challenges, and opportunities to support them in organizing themselves into dynamic and professional entrepreneurs and partners in agribusiness.”
Mrs Daunivalu was one of the three women who benefitted from this international training course and along with their male counterparts are applying the new knowledge to map nutrition sensitive value change and develop business models and investment profiles to attract additional public and private sector financing.