The Greater Sepik Secretariat Forum (GSSF) has been formalised and is set to promote and strengthen agribusiness activities in the Greater Sepik region with support from the EU STREIT PNG Programme.
The Secretariat consists of five interim executives, who are officers of the East Sepik and Sandaun Provincial Administrations, while two are from the private sector.
EU-STREIT PNG Programme, in its ongoing efforts helps to build the capacity of rural entrepreneurs and business activities and to create linkages of value chain actors with the public and private sector in the Sepik Region.
Officiating the inaugural meeting, the FAO Gender and Youth Leading Expert, Patu Shang, called for inclusive participation and genuine representation.
Addressing the participants, including the five interim executives of the Greater Sepik Secretariat Forum, Shang said, “You are key players in the sector and in a group like this – we can work together by bringing out the issues, and learn from each other. I am also happy to see 50/50 women participation, and this is how it should work.”
FAO Value Chain & Small Medium Enterprise Officer, Alwyn Badui explained the work of the Secretariat Forum.
He said is a platform for all key stakeholders and value chain actors to exchange views and discuss real-time experiences on best practices, challenges and partnership opportunities for the targeted value chains of cocoa, vanilla and fisheries supported under the Programme.
“At the end of the EU Funded UN Joint EU STREIT PNG Programme, this forum will continue to facilitate the promotion of rural agribusiness through partnership to strengthen each other and also for sourcing outside support in terms of marketing,” explained Badui.
The participants, who are key businessmen and women representing SMEs, cooperatives, women and youth groups, were very supportive of this initiative that will act as a platform to support their farming and business activities in the two Sepiks.
A female vanilla exporter, Nancy Fale said, “This is a good initiative that will help us to discuss and learn from each other on our failures, our strengths and weaknesses, so that after EU-STREIT, we can stand on our own with the support of this forum to take us to the next level.”
For James Dohmun, a cooperative representative from the hinterland of Drekikier in East Sepik, he described the meeting as a learning as well as a business opportunity and said, “If I didn’t attend, I would not learn something new about inland fish farming today.”
The gathering pulled together 46 participants, including youths and women from the public and private sectors who also shared best practices, key challenges and partnership opportunities available in cocoa, vanilla and fisheries value chains.