Ruddy Artango, Erap


In Markham 1, we drive through creeks, palm trees and tiny villages to reach Ruddy Artango’s farm. In her 50s, Ruddy has a passion for growing – evident in the incredible variety of bananas, papayas, pineapples, oranges, custard apples, mangoes around us. This land is a foodie’s paradise, fresh and earthy!

“I am a proud PNG farmer. I am a provider – female farmers not just manage homes and families but also farms. We feed our children and feed the nation. That’s our value.”

For Ruddy, agriculture is a way of life. Having tried her hand at a number of 9-5 jobs, Ruddy recently returned to her 10 hectares of land, purchased years ago with her husband. Now a widow, Ruddy’s vision is to supply her produce to retail stores and hotels.

But delivering consistency, in terms of quality and quantity, isn’t easy. “Labour is an issue. Young people today don’t want to till the soil, they want instant money. But farming is all about patience and TLC.”

Ruddy takes us through her farm to market journey. Weather determines everything since she has no water supply. At the mercy of the rain gods, she awaits the dark clouds eagerly. Her family and a few community members help her harvest the produce, which then is carried to the Okuk Highway 5-km away. What follows is a costly ride on the PMV to the Lae Market. Add to that a market fee. Her take-home sum definitely doesn’t do justice to the hard-work.

As voiced by many farmers across the country, Ruddy raises her concerns about the lack of infrastructure and support services. “It is great that PNG aspires to be the Food Bowl of Asia-Pacific. Policies are good, but are they actually working down the line? They created loans for the agriculture sector but do you think any of the farmers can actually make the cut?”

Despite the challenges, Ruddy is determined. “We are blessed with land and we can use that land to make miracles.”

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