Margaret Kandilop is a young, enthusiastic vegetable farmer who hails from the mountainous region of Morobe Province in the hinterlands of Boana, Nawae District.
Margaret is a single mother to one child. After completing Year 10 in Busu Secondary, she enrolled at Malahang Vocational School for a Tourism and Hospitality Certificate Course. After completing her course, she was employed by Lae Yacht Club for a year, but returned home after her dad passed away.
Since 2016, Margret has been growing local crops like taro, bean, broadleaf plantain (aibika) watercress and chayote (choko) leaves in her customary land of about 0.5 hectares for local markets as well as for consumption.
After being introduced to and assisted by the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) in 2018, she started to grow crops such as round cabbage, potato, pak-choi, spring onion, capsicum and french bean through a semi-commercial farming system. However, her commitment to lifelong learning doesn’t end there. Margaret was also involved in NKW Group’s (a local landowner company) Managing and Marketing skills training.
After training with FPDA, she has increased her annual sales earnings by 200%. Margaret sells most of her vegetables at the District Station Market, earning between K100.00 to K200.00 daily. When there is surplus produce, she travels to Lae and sells at the main market instead, earning between K200.00 - K400.00 daily.
On top of being a farmer, Margret faces additional challenges as a single mother. Family participation with weeding, drainage work and ploughing has not been consistent and she finds this discouraging at times. Since vehicles might not operate extensively during rainy seasons, accessibility to markets is a real struggle due to the slippery and muddy road conditions along the rugged terrains and mountains.
Despite the challenges in her way, Margaret is dedicated to diversifying her income and expanding her business. She recently engaged in trade store operations at Boana Station and has even started pig farming, aspiring to venture further into a Small Medium Enterprise in the future.
Her encouragement to other women, regardless of education level, is to engage in agriculture. “Women must not rely on their parents to cater for their needs, especially single mothers. Where there is land there is money.” Margaret believes that farming is a viable industry that enables many people to earn income and sustains livelihoods.