Friday, February 11, 2011

Finschhafen farming goes hi-tech

FINSCHHAFEN district in Morobe province will now be able plan for its district agricultural and natural resources development guided by computer-generated database tools.

Jimmy Maro (standing) guiding participants in using the desktop GIS tool at the Finschhafen Technical School, Gagidu station
This is possible after the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) conducted a training last week for district administration staff on the use of the geographic information systems (GIS) and the global positioning systems (GPS) tools.
These are spatial tools that provide useful information which can act as guides in the planning and development processes.
The week-long training was an initiative of local MP Theodore Zurenouc, who has a close working relationship with NARI to develop agriculture in his district.
More than 18 officers from various divisions in the district administration, including staff from Zurenouc’s electoral office, participated in the training.
NARI GIS specialist Jimmy Maro said the objective of the training was to enhance the capacity of the district administration in using GIS and GPS tools in rural agricultural planning and development for the district.
Maro said the tools were designed for gathering, analysing and managing spatial information (any object identified according to its location) such as topography, soils, rainfall, land use, population and services such as markets and roads which were useful in planning, particularly agriculture and rural development.
He said the training was also able to introduce to the participants the existing national databases: mapping agriculture systems project (MASP) and the PNG resource information systems (PNGRIS).
These databases contain information about PNG’s natural resources and smallholder agricultural systems.
The training involved formal introductory sessions on how the tools work and desktop mapping of roads, rivers, areas under agriculture, and projecting population in different parts of the district.
The participants were shown how to do land use assessments, for instance modelling the impact of possible natural disasters like floods or identifying suitable land for growing certain types of food and cash crops in the district.
Participants also had hands-on experience in handling the GPS receiver to gather locations such as plantations and villages.
The information generated was mapped and an inventory was created to add to existing information of the district in the national database.
Leka Stanley, on behalf of the participants, said the training was useful as they were able to gain useful knowledge for rural planning, particularly for agriculture and natural resource development and management.
He said equipped with the new skills and knowledge, they were looking forward to better manage and plan the district development effectively.
Stanley, who is also the electoral officer of the local MP, acknowledged NARI for facilitating the training and Zurenouc for his initiative and support.

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