Five women from the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) have successfully secured employment under the Australian Government’s Seasonal Workers Programme (SWP) through the Women in Agriculture (WiA) project.

The WiA project enables Australian farmers to recruit women from the PNG highlands; women who are not only experienced farmers but also have mastered ‘selective picking’ techniques through picking coffee berries. The project is mutually beneficial to both Australian farmers and women from PNG.

Women from PNG have generations of farming experience, growing a range of produce such as root crops, leafy greens, herbs, coffee and fruit – providing them with knowledge and skills easily transferable to Australian farms.

Ironbark Citrus has been a part of the SWP since 2001, and currently recruits a mix of seasonal workers from Tonga, Timor-Leste and PNG.

Ironbark’s management have been impressed with the quality of work, particularly as first-time citrus pickers. When the women first arrived, they found the work challenging but with each day their outputs increased and by the third week they were all picking two bins of mandarins per day.

Furthermore, on their second day one of the women achieved a perfect score for the quality of her picking and was named ‘Picker of the day’.

Through the WiA project, Ironbark Citrus has gained a team of women accustomed to farm work, and masters of selective picking. The women enthusiastically arrive to work every day, motivated by the opportunity to earn money to support their families and in turn, they contribute to increasing Ironbark’s productivity and the quality of their produce.

To be eligible to employ Pacific Island and Timorese seasonal workers, employers must apply for Approved Employer status from the Department of Jobs and Small Business: www.jobs.gov.au/seasonal-worker-programme

For information on PNG’s Women in Agriculture Project contact Maxie Dominic makambo020368@gmail.com or David Haro nedenquiries@gmail.com

Images provided by LMAP Cardno