The Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) has released a new video that captures the lessons learned from farmer-orientated value chain trainings in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu. This video was produced under the jointly funded project by the ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on ‘Leveraging the development of local food crops and fisheries value chains for improved nutrition and sustainable food systems in the Pacific Islands’ which is being implemented in collaboration with the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization (PIPSO).
Since 2014, PIFON has been working with nine of its farmer organisation members across the Pacific region to reach farmers and other stakeholders with their new value chain teaching approaches. This video captures the feedback from farmers, farmer organisations, traders and the public sector about how the training has impacted them, and also, what can be done to improve on the approach taken.
The PIFON training, is based on a manual that CTA has funded as well as provided technical guidance together with the Pacific Community. The training manual is composed of diagrams and simple descriptions which outline the role and contribution of each player along the value chain, giving farmers a more holistic understanding of the crop they produce and the final product. “The training resources were very good, very basic and straight to the point. The feedback from farmers after the training was that they really appreciated it. You could understand the whole message of the value chain and how important each link in the chain was, and where our part was, as farmers,” says Alan Petersen, chairman of the Tei Tei Taveuni farmer organisation in Fiji.
Training on the concept of value chains and the importance of good quality produce for increased earnings shifts the focus among farmers from themselves to the customer. “Before the value chain training, I only thought about what was in it for me. I didn’t care about the others. Something I’ve learned is to take care of all my produce so my buyer’s business also benefits,” says Waisea Turaga, a Fijian farmer. As part of the trainings in Vanuatu, spice farmers were introduced to the buyer of their produce. “The response was very good and immediately there was an increase in supply because there was a better understanding of what he did and what he contributed. Any increase in knowledge and information is going to improve markets,” says Andrew McGregor, value chain trainer in Vanuatu.
Along with the positive feedback from farmers and farmer organisations, there were also some important lessons learned. In Tonga, Soane Patolo, the general manager of Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovation Tonga Trust, stressed the importance of region-specific training materials to increase the relevance of the training for all value chain players. Others suggest that more training is required and that it should be extended to isolated farmers based on remote islands. Sakiusa Tubuna, sub-regional coordinator for IFAD, suggests that training be institutionalised within each region’s Ministry of Agriculture, and integrated into policies and potentially, school curriculums. Michael Hailu, CTA director considers this ‘an excellent training video’, which will benefit other regions.
The CTA/IFAD/PIPSO project has also developed an online ‘Value Chain Coordinating / Agricultural Innovation platform’, which will be launched during the first Pacific Week of Agriculture in Vanuatu this October. The platform aims to facilitate further capacity development of farmers and other value chain actors by supporting knowledge and experience sharing and complementing national training sessions with a focus on priority value chain development for improved food and nutrition outcomes.
This article was originally published August 24, 2017 on www.cta.int