During the Regional Forum ‘Developing Pacific Local Food Crops and Fisheries Value Chains’, which took place from 7 to 10 May at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, Fiji, a team led by Associate Professor Bibhya Sharma from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) facilitated a two-day ICT workshop on Innovations for Value Chain Development.
ICTs are playing an increasingly important role in transforming agricultural systems and in enhancing value chain efficiency and competitiveness of agri-enterprises. They are also creating innovative economic opportunities for rural communities, including women and youth. In Fiji, there is high mobile penetration, increasing internet usage and a plethora of ICT applications have been identified; yet farmers and other stakeholders are unaware of the added value of these services.
The aim of the workshop was to identify key innovations and critical success factors that can contribute to the wider adoption of ICT4Ag solutions and applications in the agri-food and nutrition system in the Pacific. The findings and recommendations of the study on “Novel ICT Application for Pacific Agri-food and Nutrition Systems: Best Practices, Gaps and Opportunities in Fiji” by Associate Professor Bibhya Sharma were validated and existing ICTs solution and applications in use by key stakeholders from the wider region and beyond with potential for regional adoption were evaluated.
The main outcome of the ICT4Ag session is a regional action plan that aims to enhance information flows and connection between rural areas, producers and markets as well as improve communication and production and transportation efficiency. The solutions will focus on user friendliness as well as easy access e.g. using USSD technology. By making ICT solutions user friendly especially for farmers and building capacity at all levels, there will be greater uptake of Climate Smart Agricultural practices, disaster management and early warning systems, and increased access to rural advisory systems and financial services which will ultimately improve the value chain performance by supporting a timely and sustainable distribution. The aim is for a strong relationship between ICTs, weather based index insurance, nutrition and funding schemes (Web/Mobile based).
“ICT’s are a key tool for development. We need to connect agriculture, health and education ICT infrastructure so that maximum use is made of government investments.” Hon Siaosi Sovaleni, Member of Parliament & Chair of the ICT committee of the Kingdom of Tonga
The corresponding news article can be found on: http://www.usp.ac.fj/news/story.php?id=2769 (The University of the South Pacific, 14 May 2018)
Read the full press release of the Regional Forum here: https://www.innov4agpacific.net/multi-stakeholder-commitment-reached-fiji-regional-forum-7-10-may-suva/
You can get access to all presentations here: https://dgroups.org/cta/innov4agpacific/