Monday, May 17, 2010

Address issues for sustainable livelihood

The Integrated Agriculture Training Programme (IATP) of the University of Natural Resources and Environment cannot sustain livelihood of the people of Maprik in East Sepik province unless certain issues are addressed.

This was stated in a report to the university’s administration by IATP head trainer Owen Ngala.

Ngala said almost 60% of farmers who sat through the training last year were practicing some of the techniques and technologies they learnt, but training alone would not sustain their livelihoods unless some of the issues affecting them were addressed by the Government and stakeholders.

He said as observed by the IATP team in numerous cocoa blocks the team visited, there was a great need to replace old or outdated cocoa varieties that were still being planted and still existing in cocoa blocks.

“Currently, access to the latest-recommended high-yielding  pest and disease resistant clones are very difficult as supply of seeds and bud wood comes through PNG Cocoa Coconut Institute regional office in Madang,” Ngala said.

Secondly, the team identified that there was a need for central cocoa nurseries in the four local level governments to supply seedling to the farmers with the latest recommended varieties that would be accessed from Madang or East New Britain.

Thirdly, there was a need for IATP to work in collaboration with other stakeholder in educating cocoa farmers of the latest best management practices of cocoa.

“The implementation of skills gained would be better utilised if farmers are fully equipped with appropriate cocoa management tools required to manage their cocoa blocks properly,” Ngala said.

The other difficulty faced by farmers is the bad road condition.

It is assumed that this situation could also be contributing to the non participation of farmers in economic activities in less-accessible areas.

Ngala said for the next training IATP would wait upon the advice from division of primary industry on which modules were to be delivered.

“The IATP approach would be for the farmer to sit through the three base modules, then project-based training then into business or entrepreneurship training,” Ngala said

He said this was because when farmers sat through three modules they were in a better position to make decisions for themselves on how to use their resources wisely to benefit their individual families in the present situation and in later years.

He said once the farmer developed the right mindset, the project based training would be more meaningful or purposeful because he or she would realise the importance of gaining such skills.

“Once he mastered the skills for his project, certainly the production will increase thus income to the family,” Ngala said.

Meanwhile, the IATP team travelled to West New Britain province last Thursday to conduct monitoring and evaluation for the first time since IATP reached WNB in 2008.


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