Gomu Women in Agriculture Cooperative Society, Bialla

The power of women

For generations, women have been in charge of gardening and feeding their families. But when this routine household activity gets commercialized, it lays a very strong framework for aspiring SMEs.

In Bialla, we encountered one such group of women at Gomu village. Boisterous, proud and assertive – these 30 women have come together to establish a co-operative society, which will soon start selling the famous WNB taros to a retail giant in Port Moresby.

When the Eat Smart Campaign gets to the Taro gardens after a long bumpy drive from Kimbe, overwhelming hospitality awaits us. Women cheerfully peel the root crop, as they sing and ready the mumu so our team can taste the local cuisine.

Mary explains how the co-operative society came along. “We all were growing taros in our little gardens for years. But I felt we have the potential to sell taros at a larger scale. You see, there is no market here and our produce was being wasted. So, we got together to increase the scale of operations.”

The women have varying levels of education, from Grade 2 to Grade 12. But they speak with keen business acumen, often found in sophisticated corporate offices.

Veronica, the chairperson, says, “We registered ourselves, activated our network for logistics and now will be selling 2-3 tons of taros every month to Stop & Shop. The profits will go towards paying dividends to the members of the co-operative.”

As they share an incredible lunch of Taro mumu with us, the conversation veers towards what they want to achieve. For some, it is a way of securing their children’s future. For others, the goal is to build a house.  But for all of them, it is about proving their value!

The taros from Bialla have a long way to travel. From the gardens to the highway, from their to Kimbe in a truck and then shipped away to Port Moresby in containers. And as the “pride of WNB” travels, the women behind it launch a well-deserved journey of empowerment!

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