MVF starts partnership verification for farmers in Simbu

The Market for Village Farmers (MVF) program under the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) was in Gembogl, Simbu Province recently.

The team was there to asses and verify farming communities for partnership in providing market accessibility to small farmers.

The Market for Village Farmers – Maket Bilong Villis Fama (MVF) is a Government of PNG project financed by IFAD, executed by National Department of Agriculture & Livestock, and implemented by Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA).

The Project Development Objective is to achieve sustainable and increased returns to village farming households from marketed oriented production.  

Gambogl is one of the selected sites in Simbu province, due to consistent production and harvesting supply of bulb onion, potato, cauliflower and other high value fresh produce to markets in PNG over the years.

Project Manager Robert Lutulele said the struggle endured by rural farmers will soon be over when MVF starts providing access to good markets for their fresh produce.

The project targets three provinces in Call One, which include Simbu, Jiwaka and Western Highlands.

He said the project target beneficiaries for Call One is estimated to involve about 5,000 family households or 25, 000 family members, an average of five people per household.

The project is anticipated to foster inclusive business partnerships amongst lead partners who are buyers of fresh produce and have secured markets in PNG, with men and women, youths and marginalised farmers in the target villages in those selected provinces.

Lutulele explained that in call one, it only targets large and medium fresh produce aggregators of fresh produce in three provinces.

It will, however, expand the target to include micro and small lead partners in call 2 and will include Eastern Highlands and Morobe provinces. 

The MVF appraisal Committee evaluated the Expression of Interest (EoI) for 18 partners submitted against strict project criteria and guidelines to select 8 partnerships to prepare them for full business plan and implementation.

However, before that process starts, recommendations from Appraisal Selection Committee was to conduct partnerships verification.

“The aim of the partnership verification with selected proponents was to identify lead partners’ legal status of operation, partnership objective, how it aligns to overarching goal of the project and MTDP III sub sector of fresh produce industry.

“It will also identify the group’s cohesiveness and linkages with farmer group and their farmers, partnership sustainability and potential risk that may arise during the project implementation,” he said. 

The activities of the partnership verification include consultation meeting with the lead proponents, awareness and field visits to selected farmer groups and farm inspections.

John Banda, a potato mother-seed grower in Kegla village, at the foot of Mt Whilem says this project is for the hard-working active village farmers and believe consultation with all players along the value chain needs to be properly established for a better outcome to alleviate their struggles in production and marketing of fresh produce.

Mr Lutulele said he was anticipating a lot of challenges in the first call for proposal and eventual implementation, adding he was still confident that the project would overcome these challenges and deliver results for the fresh produce aggregators and farmers.

The MVF is a six-year project that will cover Western Highlands, Jiwaka, Simbu, Eastern Highlands, Morobe and East New Britain.

Freddy Mou