Information, Communications & Extension

The ICE thematic group contributes to achieving LRD objectives of improving food security and well-being of member countries by promoting innovative extension approaches to communicate information and promote new technologies for the sustainable management of agricultural and forest resources.

SPC facilitates training in using Web 2.0 tools for information exchange
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 17:12

Twenty-three participants from 11 Pacific countries (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) learnt about using Web 2.0 media tools to create and share content for information exchange. The training for Pacific Island countries and territories was held in Nadi, Fiji, from 16 to 20 September.

Representatives came from government departments and also from international agencies such as SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community), GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development). Non-governmental organisations participating included the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND), Women in Development, Oxfam International and World Vision.

Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and other social media networks provide an interactive platform for developing, uploading and sharing information online rather than simply viewing content.

SPC’s Land Resources Division, in partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA), hosted the Web 2.0 training, which precedes the upcoming launch of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) organised by the CTA-ARDYIS project. SPC is a key partner in the project.

In his opening speech, Fiji's Permanent Secretary for Agriculture, Mr Ropate Ligairi said, ‘The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture has recognised the potential of youth to contribute immensely to the development of not only the agriculture sector but  Fiji’s economy overall. Recognising the need for food security, poverty alleviation, employment and economic growth, the government has set up a partnership with Fiji National University to pioneer a new scholarship programme in Fiji that has two basic aims – to produce a new generation of farmers in Fiji, and to encourage young people to become farmers and give them the ability to do so.’

Mr Ligairi said, ‘The use of online tools changes the online environment for people to share and exchange information and ideas on agricultural practices. The Department of Agriculture, Fiji, has created a Facebook page that promotes the use of social media technologies to engage with the agriculture community and its stakeholders and also to empower youth to participate, share and discuss successful ventures in the area of agriculture.’

Dr Ken Cokanasiga of SPC highlighted the Pacific Youth Development Framework, which is expected to be launched in December 2013 to promote the development of opportunities for young people in the Pacific region.

‘The Pacific Youth Development Framework is guided by the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy 2011–2015, which was developed earlier by SPC. The Youth in Agriculture strategy recommends actions and initiatives that all stakeholders can pursue to encourage active engagement of young people in agriculture,’ he said.
He further added that to promote information sharing and exchange, SPC is keen to collect a wide range of experiences about how best to engage young men and women in agriculture and forestry and, in particular, to learn how social media and other information and communication technologies are being used to develop agricultural opportunities for youth.

An example is provided by Cama Tuidelaivagadra, a young agriculture extension officer from the remote island of Cicia, Fiji, who participated in the Web 2.0 training. Mr Tuidelaivagadra aims to enter the YoBloCo competition to showcase Cicia Island as a fully organic certified island. He said, ‘Sharing stories about organic farming through the use of websites and social media networks can boost the development of remote communities such as Cicia, especially in accessing niche markets.’

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ICELRD’s core business is to improve the food and nutritional security of the Pacific Community through the sustainable management and development of land, agriculture and forestry resources. This is accomplished through the delivery of technical support, training and advice to our member country governments in the areas of plant protection, conservation and use of plant genetic resources, animal health and production, agroforestry, sustainable systems for agriculture, forestry and land management, and biosecurity and trade facilitation.

The Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) is the leading regional body providing guidance to LRD work plans. The biannual HOAFS Meeting endorses LRD work plans and budget. The office of the LRD Executive acts as the Secretariat for HOAFS.