A training on an innovative technology that could potentially transform the region’s high value vegetable market was held for agriculture extension officers in Nadi, Fiji this week.
The Australian-funded ‘Integrating protected cropping systems into high value vegetable value chains in the Pacific and Australia’ project supports Pacific Island farmers to take on Protected Cropping or green house production systems, enabling them to produce vegetables all year round.
Implemented by The Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD) and Central Queensland University (CQU), the Nadi training provided agriculture officers the knowledge and skills to extend protected cropping in the country and review a training manual that would bolster confidence in using the technology once the five-year project wraps up this year.
“Protected cropping requires many skills to deliver a successful outcome. This training went through everything, from selecting a structure to choosing the crop, managing it in the protected environment dealing with irrigation, pests, and diseases, right to marketing and getting the money to make it all happen,” said Mai Alagcan, the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) regional manager for the Pacific.
SPC Leader for Sustainable Agriculture Gibson Susumu added the demand for high-value vegetables has forced Pacific Island countries such as Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa to import their fresh vegetables over the years.
“In all three countries, domestic supply is very small during the wet season period from November-April when warm, humid conditions increase disease pressure and rainfall damages exposed crops, making outdoor production of vegetables in lowland areas almost impossible.”
At the training, the Fiji Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Vinesh Kumar announced the Ministry of Agriculture Fiji will provide protected cropping structures to 20 of their farmers this year, with an additional 10 structures provided by ACIAR.
“We need to promote low-cost systems that provide the desired results and can easily be adopted by our farmers. Research and development should continue focusing on identifying suitable structural designs, control of pest and diseases and creating more awareness and trainings.”
The ‘Integrating protected cropping systems into high value vegetable value chains in the Pacific and Australia’ project is funded by ACIAR.
Gibson Susumu, Programme Leader Sustainable Agriculture, Land Resources Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]
Matilda Simmons, Communications Assistant, Land Resources Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected]
The Pacific Community has been supporting sustainable development in the Pacific, through science, knowledge and innovation since 1947. It is the principal intergovernmental organisation in the region, owned and governed by its 27 member countries and territories. www.spc.int
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