Improved Dissemination & Adoption of Applied Agricultural Production Research Technologies

The baseline – Improved dissemination and adoption of production/research technologies by farmers and stakeholders involve putting in place strong Information Knowledge Management systems (IKM). Over the past 12 months, PAPP has focussed on establishing a key regional information platform, the Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet) which now numbers 800 members involving farmers, extension workers, policy makers and private sector and is actively discussing a technical or research topic every month for the last 6 months. The project has also begun IKM needs analysis initially starting with regional portals at SPC which will now be rolled out to countries. These needs assessments are also important to provide a structure for addressing research and extension (R&E) needs by countries. SPC PAPP, GFRAS and other partners are convening a Regional Research and Extension (R&E) Summit in September will provide a platform to link between R&E and IKM. Over the last 12 months, the Project has supported climate change crop exchanges through SPC’s CePACT and also PIFON.

Improve the Dissemination & Adoption of Climate Change Agriculture Forestry Production Technologies

PAPP has developed a new PAFPNet discussion platform to promote regular technical exchange through an e-discussion platform on agricultural/forestry issues in the region and also internationally. A new video promoting PAFPnet was also developed and used in various events to promote the facility and membership. An early PAFPNet portal was originally established in 2006 with CTA although its uptake while initially strong had faltered over the years. Since rebuilding and promoting

With this foundation in place, PAPP has been facilitating monthly discussions on topics of regional significance and, where possible, adopting discussions into activities or for elevating awareness.

For example:

  • November 2014 – Pesticide Management and Crop Protection- utilised at University of South Pacific, Fiji Public Seminar to raise public awareness of crop research and protection methods for key staple crop; taro and tomatoes, cabbages. This outreach event was attended by students from USP, Fiji National University (FNU) and a number of local high schools, as well as professional staff of the university, many of whom have subsequently joined the PAFP Network.
  • March 2015 - Livestock feed issues – directly linked to Fiji livestock consultation workshop to formulate new livestock strategy.
  • May 2015 – Models for linking framers to hotel markets – discussed at national agritourism

Improve Dissemination & Adoption of Participatory Extension Methodologies especially to promote Youth & Women

Off-Season Vegetable Production Training workshops in Samoa (November 2014), Tonga (April 2015) and Fiji (June 2015). As well as drawing on the experience of seasoned policy practitioners, the forum is alsoexperiencing increasing engagement with students and young people, contributing to raisingthe profile of agriculture, making it more engaging and attracting people to the sector, especiallyyouth. Promotion of the facility through a new video produced by PAPP was also undertaken inTonga, Samoa and Fiji. Plans are afoot for further national promotion through existing nationalevents.

Training on off-season vegetable production was organised with PIFON and Australian funded research partners ACIAR to discuss and exchange tools and methods that will enable consistent production of off-season crops. Hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture Research Station in Sigatoka Valley, Fiji the training was a mix of exchange and on-farm training that demonstrated how existing farmer groups supplying large tourism hotel chains in that area were using protective cropping methods.

A total of 48 participants attended including individual farmers, representatives of National Farmer Organisations plus 16 farmers participating in the SPC/ ACIAR Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) group. Women in Agriculture, PNG which has a membership base of over 3000 members participated in the event. The week-long training had the specific objectives to:

  • Disseminate information on integrated crop management for pest and disease control
  • Promote the use of low cost protective cropping structures at the farm level
  • Encourage the sharing of lessons learnt between vegetable farmers and farmer organisations from around the region.

The event involved presentations and discussions from experts as well as a range of field trips to farms, trial sites, nurseries and research stations across the Sigatoka valley. Outcomes included:

A large number of participants were interested in purchasing protected structures and finding out about shipment arrangements.

  • PIFON arranged to coordinate provision of suitable vegetable varieties upon request
  • ACIAR assisted the PGS farmers who attended and have since extended their offer to strengthen this work and partnership in cropping technologies.
  • Requests for similar training to be conducted again were put forward and there was a large amount of interest shown in attending the training.

A report documenting the training will be available to be shared with the national farmer organisations and other stakeholders. Promoting crop biodiversity utilisation and a regular exchange and management of plant genetic resources are key tools for climate change protection. PAPP facilitated the annual exchange of Pacific Plant Breeders through the Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN) and Pacific Plant Breeders Network in Suva, Fiji on 1-5 December 2014. The event, a mix of exchange and field training was supported by PAPP, IACT and the UN Food Agricultural Organisation Treaty Benefit Sharing project. PAPGREN aims to support national programs targeting the conservation, utilisation, exchange and management of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Over 40 participants representing government ministries, farmer groups, planting material networks, universities and other relevant partners attended. The event entailed the following:

  • Country reports from each of the members
  • Update on SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees
  • Organic agriculture and biodiversity
  • Overview of the impacts of Bogia Phytoplasm Disease on coconut
  • Emergency Response for the safety duplication of the Pacific Coconut Collection
  • FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  • Climate Change Crop Modelling and Screening Methods
  • Agricultural Value Chain Guide for the Pacific Islands
  • Breeding Principles & Practice
  • Field Trip and Training

Climate-Ready Crop Research to Improve Food Security

The Pacific Community’s (SPC) European Union (EU) supported intra-ACP Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) is involved in various multi-partner, climate change-ready crop projects in the FSM including community based gardens, plus research to pilot-test the resilience of varieties of cassava and of taro against Taro Leaf Blight (TLB).

In Micronesia particularly the Federated States of Micronesia, cassava remains an important crop for subsistence farmers for food and for cash after selling the excess roots from household consumption.[1]

Climate-ready crops Research

Research is underway in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), to determine more climate-ready and disease tolerant crops that can be grown by local people to help improve food security. Pohnpei-based research projects are testing the resilience of varieties of cassava in different management practices and taro, against Taro Leaf Blight (TLB), through a participatory breeding process. SPC’s Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) is involved in the research, supported by the College of Micronesia, the FSM and Pohnpei Agriculture Departments and other partners. 

Nine varieties of cassava and 11 varieties of taro are being collected and grown in plots in the Pohnpei agriculture field for this purpose.

This is the first time Pohnpei varieties of cassava and taro are collected and to be documented and, in addition, tested for their resilience against climatic stresses and other growing conditions alongside introduced varieties to identify resilient crop varieties that are best suited to Pohnpei, FSM and the North Pacific as a whole.

The Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) held in Pohsoain Village addressed the changing climate and how droughts are becoming more severe, which has prompted Pohsoain and other communities to improve food security and nutrition by growing more climate resilient crops including cassava, taro, yam and breadfruit, plus some sweet potato and banana varieties. To further support these farmers, is the basic reason the unique research for cassava and taro that is being conducted in Pohnpei to increase a diverse base of resilient crop varieties for future food and income security. Cassava has been identified as a drought tolerant crop ideal to improve food security for FSM communities struggling to grow crops in drier conditions.

Cassava Drought Resistance

Cassava has been identified as a drought tolerant crop ideal to improve food security for FSM communities struggling to grow crops in drier conditions. The performance of the nine varieties of cassava available locally is being compared to determine the most resilient variants.

Taro Leaf Blight Resistance

The taro project aims to identify and also breed varieties of taro that are resistant to Taro Leaf Blight (TLB), a major food security threat in the Pacific Islands and Asia. The method is to initially start work from the agriculture plot then expand to promote on-farm taro breeding and selection for TLB resistance in the North Pacific, in particular Pohnpei.  Specifically, it involves 11 varieties of taro, of which 9 are local and 2 are from overseas. The project will better characterize and document local taro varieties, to coordinate breeding work, so to come up with TLB resistant or tolerant cultivars.

Eleven taro varieties have been collected to soon start cross-breeding for TLB resistance for the North Pacific.

The taro project aims to:

  • Document the taro varieties for the North Pacific, focussing Pohnpei.
  • Identify through participatory breeding and progressive selection processes,, then promote to farmers, at least one or more TLB resistant variety of taro best suited to the North Pacific This is from cross breeding of desirable varieties that are going to be identified from the collection.
  • Better understand the basic principles of participatory breeding and its importance on food security in a rapid changing climate.
  • The breeding component of the project will involve participation from local extension officers, farmers and other agriculturalists who undertake training, including training of trainers, to equip them with the technical and other knowledge required to assist them design and implement the taro breeding initiative. These participants will form a Breeders Group, central to the TLB on-farm research.

[1] Effects of Pruning Cassava in Its Tuber Yield, Yield Components, Storage and Eating Qualities, Dr. Lolita N. Ragus, Researcher and Dr. Nacaniele Tuivavalagi, Researcher

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