Office and field training equipment valued at F$134,000 were handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture today by the European Union funded “Improving Key Services to Agriculture” (IKSA) project, which is being implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC).
The IKSA project has been working to support farmers in the sugar cane belt to increase and improve the production of horticultural crops through the provision of enhanced research and extension services, nursery and farmer development, and improved market access and trade.
The office and field training equipment will support the work of extension offices in the Western Division and in the Macuata Province by enhancing their work with farmers in Fiji’s sugar cane belt. The equipment includes soil-testing devices to determine acidity, salinity and nutrients in the soil, field training equipment and office equipment.
Speaking at the handover, Mr. Christoph Wagner, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation for the Pacific said, “For the EU it is important that the IKSA project has been working in close collaboration with the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture. It therefore makes sense at the end of the project to enhance the productivity and training capacities of the extension and research divisions of the Ministry. I am pleased that the office and field training equipment from the project will enable the extension offices to continue support and training to horticultural farmers.”
The project is also launching several training videos on how to produce open pollinated seeds, and how to produce pineapples.
“The IKSA project is developing training videos on open pollinated seed production, pineapple production, nursery management, pesticide residue safety, soil health and irrigation. Today, we are uploading ten videos on open pollinated seed and pineapple production, which will enable farmers to have easy access and watch these training videos on their mobile phones or home computer via SPC’s YouTube channel, linked through the SPC and Ministry of Agriculture websites. It is exciting to start enabling farmers to have ease of access to training through the internet,” said Peter Foster, SPC Director of Communications.
Receiving the equipment and training videos on behalf of the Ministry for Agriculture, David Kolitagane, Permanent Secretary for Agriculture said: “The IKSA project has consistently supported the Ministry by developing training materials and training our staff. The provision of this equipment and training videos will enable the Ministry to more effectively transfer our knowledge to farmers and develop our production of fruits and vegetables.”
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.
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: [email protected]