Max Bawai, Brown River

Just 30 minutes from bustling Port Moresby, off the concrete Hiritano Highway and onto a non-descript mud-road, lies a small yet thriving farming community. Tucked away along the Brown River, the Yamari village is home to 500 people, who are culturally, economically and socially dependent on the incredibly rich land.

The day starts as early as 4 am in the village, even before the sun peeks out. Men, women and even children stoically working in their little patches of farms. The fresh produce, ranging from corn to aibika to bananas to bread-fruit, a testament to the fertility of the soil. Traditional practises have continued from generations, not surprisingly reliant on the whims and fancies of the rain. But now the community is going beyond subsistence farming and turning to commercial agriculture. CPL Group, well-known for its farmer programmes, is providing crucial guidance and expertise as they transition.

Max, a farmer in his 50s, is the poster-boy of this change. His weathered face, lined with strains of sun and hard work, beams up as he speaks of his journey.

“We are a Goilala community, tilling Koiari land. When we started, we used to sell our produce in open markets. Often, our produce would get wasted just wilting out in the open. Now we supply fresh produce to the biggest retail stores. We use hybrid seeds, understand crop rotation and incorporate some of the techniques taught to us by the experts at CPL Group.”

As the Eat Smart Campaign team interacts with the villagers, their pride shines through. A farmer shows off his banana garden, another convinces Chef Julz Henao to climb on to a canoe for a ride on the famous Brown River. On a freshly cleaned-up spot, they showcase their produce – but are adamant that the Chef makes Corn the hero of all dishes. After all, we are in Corn Country, Brown River.

Farmer Profiles

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