In a significant stride towards boosting rural development and agri-enterprise in the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), as part of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, established four resource centres in areas that are grappling with serious challenges in access to ICT services, including digital skills, digital tools, and access to information.
Nestled within the picturesque landscapes of Sepik provinces, these resource centres are located at Brandi Secondary School (Wewak) and Wosera Secondary School (Wosera) in East Sepik, and Don Bosco Technical Secondary School (Vanimo) and St. Ignatius Secondary School (Aitape) in West Sepik.
The resource centres provide farmers with a variety of services, including access to digital technologies, such as computers and the internet; training on how to use digital technologies for enterprise development; market information on prices, demand, and trends; access to e-marketplaces and e-commerce platforms; support to the formation of new and strengthen of existing farmers' groups and cooperatives; and advice on production, marketing, and financial management. The resource centres also connect farmers with buyers, exporters, processors, and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chains.
"These resource centres provide farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in the market and help them to contribute to the economic development of their country” said Mr Kanagat Alyshbaev, the Project Officer for ITU-STREIT. "The resource centres signify a dynamic shift towards a more connected and empowered agribusiness landscape. By harnessing the potential of digital tools, we are not only enhancing the capacities of local producers and MSMEs but also supporting rural communities."
The EU-STREIT PNG Programme adopts a forward-looking Public-Private Partnership (PPP) approach for the establishment of the resource centres to ensure their sustainability. By collaborating with public schools as host institutions, the initiative ensures accessibility, community integration, and long-term viability. This strategic alliance not only fosters technological growth but also nurtures a sense of ownership within the local community.
"The establishment of these resource centres is a major milestone in our efforts to support the Government of Papua New Guinea in its efforts to improve the livelihoods of the rural population," said Mr Ali Said Yesuf, the EU-STREIT PNG Programme Coordinator.
“These resource centres aren't just about technology; they are enablers of economic growth and agricultural transformation. By equipping farmers with digital skills, digital tools, and access to information, they contribute significantly to the achievement of the Mid-Term Development Plan IV of Papua New Guinea. Through these centres, farmers gain access to resources that enhance productivity, improve product quality, link to profitable markets, and elevate their role in the wider economy.”
The EU-STREIT PNG Programme, being implemented as a UN Joint Programme (FAO as the leading agency, and ILO, ITU, UNCDF and UNDP as partners), is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country and the Pacific region. The Programme aims to help improve the lives of the people from East and West Sepik provinces, by focusing on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas through improved economic returns and opportunities from cocoa, vanilla and fishery value chains while strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, improved access to ICT services and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure.