Pacific Agricultural & Forestry Policy Network

Effective policies rely on good information. Policy makers from the region identified weak communication, poor engagement of stakeholders, and lack of timely information as constraints to the development of effective Pacific agricultural and forestry policies and the enforcement and implementation of existing ones. A robust regional information exchange was identified as a valuable tool to strengthen communication in the area of agricultural and forestry policy.

Discussion Queries

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PAFPNet Cosolidated Responses for November 2014 - January 2015 discussion PAFPNet Cosolidated Responses for November 2014 - January 2015 discussion

Date added: 01/26/2015
Date modified: 01/26/2015
Filesize: 372.41 kB
Downloads: 2468

Query 3: How to Improve Linkage between Farmers, Extension and Research

The PAFPNet topic for the month of December 2014/ January 2015, “How to improve linkages between farmers, extension and research”, highlighted a very popular trend of issues being faced alongside expected measures to help diminish the linkage problems faced in the three key areas. In summing up all the responses, the most common issue acknowledged as the core break in the link between farmers, extension and research was the lack of communication and farmer consultation.

An efficient agriculture production system requires an effective communication system between farmers, extension and research. Therefore, in respect to the three interest groups, farmers, extension officers and researchers, each have different needs that all correspond to the development of agriculture. The key feature that was also underlined in the discussion was finding a common ground to meet the different needs of the three groups.

Investing the time and effort in information, communication and knowledge management (ICKM) was a proposal made to help bridge the gap between researchers, extension officers and researchers. A strategy to enforce the ICKM, according to the members, is to promote farmer consultation through on-farmer research field visits. In addition, if extension officers’ place more emphasis on promoting innovation and technology that are receptive to the needs of farmers, this would lay the pathway for a surge in farmer responsiveness.

In addition, many respondents stated that the inability to extract and store tacit knowledge was another concern hindering the connection between the three stated areas.  The ability of gaining tacit knowledge was labelled as a significant component to strengthening the link between farmers, extension and research. Discussions circulated around documenting this tacit knowledge from the key interest groups which would be accessible and manageable, whereby the content could be used to enhance agricultural development with a sustainable approach.  Additionally, the concept of mentoring was also specified as a means of capturing tacit knowledge, where farming, extension and research can be practiced and passed down to others in the same sphere of interest.

Furthermore, members also stressed the lack of funding and political interest as a hindrance to improving the linkages between farmers, extension and research.  As a result of the lack of funding, extension and research cannot cover the geographical areas assigned in various Pacific island countries. In addition, seeing this as a fundamental link, it was suggested that a boost in government policy planning be considered and emphasized in collaboration with the needs of farmers to help strengthen the connection of the three key areas.

However, seeing that the relationship between farmers, extension and research is almost non-existent, members raised a point of being more realistic with what can be provided to farmers with the current information being disseminated. Also, rather than trying to initiate new strategies to increase farmer responsiveness, actions to improve the linkages should be approached by going through already existing organizations and agricultural ministries to enhance information being communicated and generated.

PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for September discussion PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for September discussion

Date added: 10/08/2014
Date modified: 11/10/2014
Filesize: 261.32 kB
Downloads: 1219

Query 1: The management of pesticides in the Pacific Islands Agriculture Production

The PAFPNet discussion for the month of September raised a number of issues as well as suggested solutions. During the discussion, the use of chemical pesticides was seen in the light of two scopes, highlighting both the beneficial aspects of its usage as well as its harmful effects.

Although it was agreed that the use of pesticides does definitely contribute towards enhancing agricultural growth, the effects that follow is the issue. In stating this, majority of the members placed emphasis on the importance of understanding the use of pesticides and following the required protocols in its usage. In having a clearer understanding of its use, the side effects of the chemical would be reduced drastically.

The use of pesticides is a concept that is impossible to completely move away from and is seen as a necessary evil, meaning that the need for the use of pesticides is fundamental for sustaining agriculture.

 Majority of the respondents have stated that the use of chemical pesticides unnecessarily can and should be done away with. It was mentioned that the best solution to minimizing the effects and toxicity of pesticide use would be to simply ban it altogether. In reference to the members’ responses there have been steps undertaken which has already been either considered or initiated by their countries as the result of the detrimental effects pesticide use has on their water supply and human health.

From experience the wise use of pesticides has been identified as an area lacking focus. This discussion provided a platform for all the members to share on common grounds that Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) is rarely used when dealing with pesticides. Bad practices are simply due to high cost of PPEs as well as the humid weather conditions. Also most of the Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) lack this personal protective equipment (PPEs) and the knowledge to understand the behaviour of each individual pesticide. This lack of knowledge triggers the mismanagement use of pesticide.

The implementation of pesticide legislation and registration is very important as stressed by the members. Imposing these regulations will improve pesticide monitoring in to countries and provide a clearer understanding of the behaviour of each individual pesticide.

 The members also suggested that Integrates Pesticide Management (IPM) approach can be an alternative to the use of chemical pesticides. IPM generally includes the agricultural use of biological controls, cultural methods, pest monitoring, crop rotation, the use of botanical pesticides and composting.

Many of the members have seen the need for a shift towards using organic pesticides. Although, chemical pesticide use is a means for keeping production at its peak it was pointed out that consumers are also making a shift towards the consumption of organic agriculture produce. The discussion did not fail to highlight the high labour intensive work involved in organic farming, but it also did not forget to illustrate the long-term benefits of this practice. Organic farming according to the members will not only improve the soil content and safeguard drinking water supplies but also protect human health for both farmers and consumers.

PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for October discussion PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for October discussion

Date added: 11/10/2014
Date modified: 11/10/2014
Filesize: 328.07 kB
Downloads: 1292

Query 2: Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security

The PAFPNet discussion for the month of October on the “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security”, highlighted a number of concerns on this sensitive topic. Looking at both the strengths and weaknesses in land, fisheries and forests tenure, a common thread identified showed that challenges in this area outweighed its strengths.

The majority of land and sea resources in the Pacific are customary-owned because of its ties to the people’s culture, customs and traditions. As a result of this, it is almost impossible to classify any underlying strengths related to the tenure of governance in the three areas listed. 

In reference to the governance of the tenure of land, the respondents highlighted the issue of land disputes as a result of land ownership. In this case, the registration of land either ceases to exist or its importance is not strongly emphasized. Additionally, because customary laws preside over freehold laws in most Pacific island countries, the implementation of the guideline lacks motivation because most decisions made involving the land and the sea are by families or villages as a whole.

However, it has also been discussed that customary ownership is not the only problem for disputes. A pending issue in relation to the areas of land, fisheries and forests, is the act of involving customary owners in business for commercial purposes. This has proved to bring about more harm than good, as customary land and communal reef ownership have been handed over to foreigners. 

Furthermore, the lack of information dissemination was underlined as a major constraint for improving the tenure governance. According to the discussions, this entailed a lack of knowledge and understanding on the vitality of land and sea resources thus leading to a rise in disputes and lack of transparency.

On another note, many members saw the importance of instituting a department specifically responsible for the registration of land and sea resources in the Pacific as a way to establish boundaries. In doing so, they also mentioned the importance of implementing guidelines to help strengthen and enable existing policies and principles set in place.

There were also some suggestions made for a more effective and efficient application of the guidelines. A promotion of the guidelines at a national level was highlighted in the forum with the support of key stakeholders and high level consultants to help boost the guidelines implementation and use. Moreover, it was also recommended that a training of trainers be organized on the guidelines so that its existence is recognised and people are made more aware of its purpose and importance.

PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for May-June 2015 Discussion PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for May-June 2015 Discussion

Date added: 06/30/2015
Date modified: 06/30/2015
Filesize: 716.52 kB
Downloads: 2111

Query 7: Linking Farmers to the Tourism Market

The PAFPNet topic for the months of May/June, "Linking Farmers to the Tourism Market" focused on questions that highlighted key problem areas affecting the connection between producers and hoteliers in the tourism industry, as well as methods to strengthen this link. This discussion topic was initiated with the objective of providing assistance, paired with a concrete dialogue outline to help close the gap between producers and buyers in the tourism market during the Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) funded Pacific Community Agritourism Week held in June 2015.

Linking farmers to the Tourism market was a concept that stimulated constructive debate and dialogue among PAFPNet members. Bridging the gap between producers and the tourism market has been identified as an innovative way to reduce poverty and improve sustainability in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The connection between farmers and hoteliers in the tourism industry contends with many issues. The implementation of this idea faces the practicality of supply and demand consistency and the agriculture/tourism market capacity.

To address the issue of supply consistency, the importation of off-season crop varieties was suggested to help maintain the regularity of supply to hotel chefs. However, the notion of intensifying efforts to utilise local produce was predominant among members’ during the discussion. Promoting and creating more awareness on the utilisation of local produce would play a key contributing factor to addressing the issue of supply consistency. Providing farmers with incentives, for instance, granting subsidies for farm equipment, vegetable seeds and fertilizers will help boost production, thus increasing the probability of its use locally.

Moreover, participants in the forum proposed for training workshop initiatives highlighting modern farming techniques as well as business/marketing knowledge. The techniques mentioned should be rendered around producing quality efficient crops compatible with meeting the standard criteria in the tourism market. Additionally, strategizing and preparing farm and cropping plans and calendars would help minimize the issue of crop supply shortage by providing farmers with the necessary business skills through various training initiatives.

The mention of policy incentives for both farmers and hotels from the government fuelled a number of recommendations. Participants made mention that the government should ensure the local market is protected with their continued support to develop. This support was encompassed around the implementation of policies compelling hoteliers to use local produce in their kitchens. However, a more realistic mention stated that the government should form a policy stating the usage of both local and imported produce on a 50/50 basis by hoteliers, with the exception of the comparative advantage aspect.

On the same note, given that islands in the Pacific, specifically low-lying coastal countries are most vulnerable to natural disasters, a policy for crop insurance was recommended to cater to the loss of crops during unforeseen events.

However, according to one contributor during the discussion, a ‘policy incentive’ may not necessarily be ideal to improve the linkage sustainability. Hotels should be sourcing from farmers because they believe it is beneficial to do so (either in terms of it being cheaper, or fresher, or offering some intangible benefit that hotel guests value in terms of supporting the local community), not because of an incentive offered by the government.

Information and awareness is important to both farmers and the hotels to ensure steady coordination between the two sectors. In order for farmers to be efficient in crop production, they must have a fair idea of the tourism market, that is, tourism peaks, tourists’ preference on local foods and a list of popular local meals. In having this information, farmers will better determine potential agricultural products aligned with the potential of the tourism market.  Additionally, hotels need to also consider alternatives to using middlemen (purchasing officers) for the supply of their produce. Members commented that hotels should undertake extra efforts to acquire farmers’ contact and crop information/prices. This would help motivate farmers to produce more on a commercial scale with crops that meet an exceptional criterion.

It is essential that communication lines are effective to maintain the connection between farmers and the hotel markets. Using mediums like the use of phone applications was mentioned to help improve the dissemination of market information. Social Media and the use of online applications would help both parties stay updated with the tourism market fluctuations and crop seasonality.

On another note, given that value-add products play an immense role in our commercial market, promotional measures must be considered to help increase its market demand. Exposing local agri-products at national and international trade shows for exposure was a method discussed on the network. Also, using already existing ministries/institutions and organizations in the market would increase the chances of likely sponsorship of local agri-products which would pave the way for improved marketability.

Finally, the seasonality of crops is one of the constraining factors affecting the growth and development of our agriculture industry in relation to the hotel markets. The implementation of Agro-processing was highlighted to as a means to strengthen the local agriculture sector. Transforming local goods in their raw form to products would have a higher potential rate to sell in the hotel/tourism market. This point then brings us back to the importance of value-add products and how its use would be a potential key channel to linking farmers to the tourism market with higher returns.

PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for March 2015 Discussion PAFPNet Consolidated Responses for March 2015 Discussion

Date added: 04/09/2015
Date modified: 04/09/2015
Filesize: 473.76 kB
Downloads: 1373

Query 5: Vulnerability of Pacific Agriculture and Forestry to Climate Change

The PAFPNet topic for the month of March, "Vulnerability of Pacific Agriculture and Forestry to Climate Change" modelled five questions for the discussion forum. Each question encompassed similar responses in relation to the stability of agriculture and forestry to the change in the climatic state. Members of the network discussed both the positive and negative impacts of climate change on land produce and various ways to incorporate traditional knowledge and practices. Additionally, PAFPNet associates mentioned the importance of climate information being simplified and translated for both subsistence and commercial farmers.

Climate change plays a major role in the production and variation of agriculture and forestry produce. Climate change is known to affect the characteristics of natural resources that are necessary for farming practices. As a result of changes in the climate, plants and animals alike are forced to adapt to the new settings. Therefore, farming systems that incorporate climate change resilient practices should be adopted.

Numerous threats on agriculture were discussed as a result of climate change. Extreme weather conditions was labelled as one of the greatest risks to agriculture. Increased frequency and intensity of drought was highlighted as one of the key factors to crop degradation. Flooding was also mentioned as a significant issue because of the build-up and spread of soil diseases such as the rotting of roots and nematodes. Additionally, the salinity accumulation in soil stemming from floods was pinpointed as one of the many negatives effects on PICTs food sources especially for small islands and atolls.  Moreover, changes in climatic conditions like that of the environmental temperature were also discussed to favour large outbreaks of known pests and diseases as a result of the subtle shifts in the bio-dynamics of the ecosystem.

Members also shared their different views on traditional knowledge regarding agriculture and weather/climate information which involves the knowledge passed on from generations before. Communities to date still use some form of traditional indicators of weather and time.  To list a few traditional climate information shared from the discussion, had mentioned that during a cyclone in Vanuatu, if a black sea bird was seen flying, it indicated the cyclone nearing an end soon. Also, in Samoa, Savaii, a change in wind direction coming over the mountains was seen as a strong indication that a cyclone was developing. Given what the members had noted down during the exchange, traditional knowledge is still held in high esteem for climatic changes and disaster preparedness.

Traditional approaches are developed over a long time frame with adaptive features to the local environment. It is vital that traditional methods are not discarded, rather adjusted to when dealing with climate change. Agroforestry practice was identified as a means to stabilize the impacts of climate change. Likewise, traditional agroforestry was mentioned to pave the way to building more resilient communities to combat the negative effects of the changes in climate. However, traditional agroforestry practices have now been perceived to be almost non-existent to date. A solution to promote this approach via workshops and trainings was suggested. This would ensure that this knowledge is collected, stored and packaged to be disseminated to the interested parties and safeguarded for the younger generations benefit.

Furthermore, information related to climate and weather conditions and its readings should be converted to help provide support to the work of farmers in both the agriculture and forestry sector with the aim of receiving the maximum value of work supplied by farmers. Dialogues on this topic stated that there needs to be a steady existence of communication channels in order to help integrate and maintain information from the Meteorological office and community level development plans.

Finally, most members in their various areas of expertise had discussed and described their working relationship with their various Meteorological services as solid. This relationship has opened up great opportunities for both interest groups and has provided a wider platform of understanding between agriculture/forestry and its relevancy to climate change.

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PAFPNet provides an opportunity for stakeholders to connect, share and engage in forums and activities intended for the development of effective agriculture and forestry policies.  It also offers a platform for Pacific stakeholders to correlate with those from other regions and institutions and learn from their experiences in agricultural and forestry policy development and implementation.  PAFPNet is forging closer alliances and cooperation with other regional and international networks, particularly with the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP).

To sign up to PAFPNet and receive regular information related to Agriculture and Forestry policy development please email [email protected] with the subject line ‘Subscribe to PAFPNet’.