Modern technologies like Web 2.0 offer new and innovative approaches of enhancing dissemination of agriculture information in support of conventional extension systems which are almost non-existent in farming communities, says Ambassador Martin Dihm, the Head of European Union Delegation to PNG.
Speaking during the opening of a Web 2.0 and Social Media learning opportunity in Port Moresby on Monday, Ambassador Dihm said online platforms and tools are important for facilitating interactive knowledge creation and real time information dissemination for improved agriculture development and productivity. He said the modern technology can provide users with a new, speedy and most powerful tool to gather fast and up-to-date information, to network, exchange with one another and collaboratively create databases of production knowledge.
The 5-day learning opportunity is currently underway at the National Research Institute (NRI) campus in Port Moresby. Over 20 participants from different organizations are attending the event which will finish on Friday. Sponsored by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA), the event, titled “Web 2.0 for Development and Social Media Learning Opportunity”, is undertaken by the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and NRI.
Ambassador Dihm said while mining and energy sectors become more dominant and important in PNG’s economy, Papua New Guineans should not forget their roots as some 80% of the country’s population still depend on agriculture in rural areas. And they need real time information to manage pests and disease, adopt improved production techniques,
“Information is an important ingredient into a growing and effective agriculture sector that offers better livelihoods and a basis for growing communities,” he said.
Ambassador Dihm said online platforms are important tools for collaborative knowledge creation and sharing but where internet access is not possible, mobile phones may be handy in the spread of information like markets and prices to end users.
“Web 2.0 has been an important tool to many countries of the World to enhance agricultural production and for sure will also play its role here in Papua New Guinea.”
According to CTA, the program is targeted at increasing awareness among development actors on appropriate, low cost and simple Web 2.0 applications; and increased skills in adopting and using selected Web 2.0 applications and social media. The course is centred around Web 2.0 and social media use in the context of development work and is addressed to parties actively engaged in agriculture and rural development / natural resource management in the domains of Information Communication Technology (ICT) for development, policies and markets, publishing, communication and media.
NARI Director General Dr Sergie Bang said new interventions in ICT have changed the way in which information and knowledge are managed and communicated between producers and users.
“Information is power. Real time access to information is important for decision making,” said Dr Bang.
“Technology has enabled much faster and rapid communication, knowledge acquisition, and dissemination in this information age in business, education, and all other facets of development. “We believe the same can be said for agricultural and rural development when we have the right skills and tools within our environments.”
We require innovative tools and applications to support our efforts in knowledge management and information sharing.
Dr Bang said Papua New Guineans are already using a range of ICT tools, both professionally as well as socially in developing, uploading and sharing information and this program falls in line to upskill those who use them in development.
He said the program is important for PNG agricultural and rural development in light of the rapid emergence and adoption of ICTs in all works of life and the many opportunities offered by ICT in facilitating knowledge management, information sharing, communication and productivity in real time.
Anju Mangal of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community is the lead trainer, supported by NARI Information and Knowledge officials.
CTA has been supporting the program in the ACP countries in the last few years and PNG is given the opportunity this year. The program will be replicated in other regional centres across PNG through the NARI centres later this year.