“Imagine working hard for two weeks to earn only K60! That was the struggle,” James said.
The couple have 500 cocoa trees in Teop, Tinputz District, in Bougainville’s north. In the past, James looked after the cocoa farm, while Emelia spent her time tending to the garden and fishing.
Despite their efforts, they struggled to save money or plan for the future.
But things started to change in 2017 when Emelia went with a friend to a CARE International training under the Bougainville Cocoa Families Support Project (BECOMES).
The training provided a mixture of practical tips on cocoa farming and promoted gender inclusivity in agricultural work.
“It opened our eyes,” Emelia said.
“We came home and said to our husbands that they must come to the next training.
“We went to the family business management training and later we went to technical trainings too.”
James said he was grateful Emelia encouraged him to participate and has made the most of the expertise available to him.
The BECOMES trainings were supported by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the governments of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand, through the Bougainville Partnership.
The project encourages more equitable sharing of household labour and decision-making within cocoa farming families as well as improving business and farm management skills.
Emelia and James saw positive outcomes on both fronts.
“The change we’ve seen has been in sharing workloads – now my husband and I both do cocoa and household work,” Emelia continued.
As a result of the training, the couple improved the management of their farm, increasing crop yields and income from cocoa sales.
“We were able to purchase a kiln pipe and we got the fermenter up and running. That is when we made a big jump with our income,” Emelia said.
With their extra income, the family was able to start a small canteen and made the most precious investment of all – educating their children.
“From our savings we have been able to send my daughter to complete Grade 10 at Arawa Secondary School. This is a big change for us,” Emelia said.
Emelia and James were recognised by CARE as model farmers for their improved farm management practices.
“CARE chose us as model farmers based on our block management performance,” James said, “this was another good support for our work.
“Emelia and I added extra responsibilities to share and support the other farmers by further running simple trainings in pruning, weed management and other technical areas.
“More farmers came seeking our help, people started seeing and relying on our example of doing things.”
BECOMES commenced in 2016 and has recently been extended to continue until early 2022.
(Model farmers - Emelia and James of Teop Village, Tinputz District)