We are delighted to welcome John Simango as the new Executive Director of Grow PNG! In his role, John will manage the overall execution of Grow PNG's strategic vision - supporting the sustainable and inclusive agricultural development in the Markham Valley.
In this Q&A, John tells us more about his expertise, passions and vision for transforming PNG's agriculture sector through multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Welcome to the Grow Asia network, John! Can you tell us about yourself and your experience? I come from a development background, having worked in different Australian Government donor programs over the last 15 years as an advisor and consultant dealing with multiple stakeholders across government, private sector, churches and civil societies including women, youth, disability and disadvantaged groups. Most recently, I was the Lead Regional Advisor for the Decentralization and Citizen Participation Partnership based in the Western Highlands Province. Prior to development, I worked in mining, banking and fast-moving consumer goods companies.
What, in your perspective, are some of the key challenges facing Papua New Guinea's agriculture sector? For the first time in the history of PNG, the government has shifted focus from the extractive industries – mining, oil and gas – to agriculture, and this is promising for the country and as many as 80% of the rural population of this country who are farmers. However, the challenge remains in lifting farmers from subsistence farming to semi-commercial and commercial farming. This will include injecting new knowledge and skills, mobilizing farmers, unlocking land for farming, use of technology, strengthening current partnerships between agribusinesses and cooperatives, developing new partnerships, encouraging investors and partners, and involving government and civil societies. All these will mean contextualizing farming within the footprint of the project area so local situations and cultures are acknowledged and accommodated where possible. What excites you most about Grow PNG and the Grow Asia network? Grow PNG provides that platform to connect farmers, agribusinesses, investors and partners, to contribute to the development of agriculture in PNG, at a favorable time in the history of this nation, and that is where the excitement lies. Even more exciting is the engagement of so many other partners in promoting agriculture development: government, local leaders, landowners, church, civil society groups, women, youth, disability, disadvantaged and marginalized people within Grow PNG’s footprint, also known as the Markham economic corridor food bowl. Better still, through the Grow Asia Network, the learnings from the network and the Markham economic corridor are shared across the country and the region to promote agriculture and agribusiness development.
John can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Grow PNG, visit www.growpng.org.