SPC and Ministry of Agriculture staff assist farmers at the plant health clinic underway at the Western Agricultural Show in Nadi

The Pacific Community (SPC) and the European Union (EU) “Improving Key Services to Agriculture” (IKSA) project is working in partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture to participate in the Western Agricultural Show from 8-10 November, 2017 at Koroivolu Park, Nadi.

The Agriculture Show will feature an array of stands and booths. This will see the IKSA project also teaming up with the SPC Integrated Crop Management (ICM) project to jointly hold a Plant Health Clinic at the show.

Farmers have been invited to bring a photograph or a plant sample in an enclosed package to the Plant Health Clinic where experts from the Ministry of Agriculture and SPC will assist in identifying pests and diseases and provide advice on how to treat them.  SPC will also be collecting plant samples to illustrate and demonstrate common diseases and nutrient deficiencies.

A series of farmer training videos are currently being produced by the IKSA project. The videos focus on soil health and plant nutrition, farm record keeping, export crops and compliance with export standards, identification of pests and diseases, open pollinated seed production and pineapple production.  The project will have an expert present at the Agricultural Show who will be documenting plant samples and gathering content for the production of training videos for farmers on plant health and nutrition. The videos will soon be accessible to farmers and the general public from SPC’s website and YouTube channel.  Farmers will be able to download the videos and view multiple examples of plant disease, or plant nutrient deficiencies, which will enable them to better identify problems with their crops and treat them effectively.

The Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific, Christoph Wagner said, “The European Union is proud to support initiatives such as the IKSA project that assists farmers with practical support. Training will better identify whether a plant has nutritional deficiency, identify pests and diseases and will improve the ability of the farmers to address problems efficiently.  In addition, the easily accessible videos will allow the farmers wide outreach.”

Dr Colin Tukuitonga, SPC’s Director General supported Mr Wagner’s comments saying, “The establishment of the Plant Health Clinic at the Agricultural Show and the production of training videos will provide accessible solutions for farmers and a reference resource for agricultural Extension Officers. This is an example of valuable research-based solutions that SPC continues to bring to the people of the Pacific.  The clinic and videos will complement the Pacific Pests and Pathogens App that was developed by SPC, which can be downloaded onto mobile devices for instant access to fact sheets and images of pests and diseases. We hope that many farmers will benefit from the Plant Health Clinic and that they will enjoy the Agricultural Show.”

Background

The IKSA project has been working to improve and enhance agricultural services to allow sugarcane farmers to increase on-farm incomes by enhancing their supply capacities through assisting with access to seed, seedlings and farm inputs, provision of practical training through farm demonstration plots and communications, and linkages to markets. The IKSA project will run until June 2018 and is working closely with the Fiji Government through the Ministry of Agriculture, to strengthen research and extension services and to enhance support services to farmers in Fiji’s sugarcane belt area to cushion the economic and social impacts of the restructuring of the sugar industry.

IKSA is one of several projects implemented by SPC and financed by the EU in Fiji’s sugarcane belt. These projects are linked to the EU’s Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) programme and aim to help strengthen rural sugar-income dependent communities in response to the EU’s Sugar Price Reform and the adverse conditions in the sugar industry. The AMSP programme is designed to improve the livelihoods of sugarcane dependent populations, increase income and reduce poverty.

Media contacts

Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: debbies@spc.int