Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Agriculture extension project recruits specialists

DAL acting secretary Anton Benjamin (second from right) congratulates the three domestic consultants recruited by SSSEP after signing their contracts. From left are Bernadette Haro, Arilla Haro and Dr John Duguman.
The Smallholder Support Services Expansion Project (SSSEP), implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, has now commenced in two additional provinces.
The expansion phase has been made possible by a K3 million grant provided by the New Zealand government through its aid agency, NZAid.
It will now be expanded to the Chimbu and Central provinces.
The agriculture smallholder extension concept was successfully trialled in the Eastern Highlands and Morobe provinces previously through funding from the Asian Development Bank.
The extension concept has been well received and has improved agriculture extension and agriculture productivity in the two provinces.
Other districts in the two provinces are now implementing the programme.
The main activities carried out under the expansion phase include training of provincial and district agriculture extension officers on the new extension process, project appraisals, capacity building and awareness.
One of the sustainability issues being addressed is development of on-going opportunities for farmers to access extension services once SSSEP is institutionalised in the target provinces.
An important outcome to address sustainability has been the establishment of a national service providers’ association (NSPA).
Plans are underway to establish a national association for service providers.
A domestic consultant, Arilla Haro, has been recruited to oversee this task.
Another important goal for the concept is to improve the status of women in agriculture by focusing support services on food crop production, income generation and market access.
Given the critical role that women play in the agriculture sector and in contributing to family livelihoods and wellbeing, it is vital that the SSSEP adopts a gender mainstreaming approach to ensure gender responsiveness of the project.
This will ensure that the concept promotes gender equality and the empowerment of women as an integral aspect for a positive outcome.
Bernadette Haro has been recruited as a gender analyst specialist to conduct a gender analysis and develop strategies to improve gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Dr John Duguman has been recruited as a monitoring and evaluation specialist who will provide short-term inputs to assist SSSEP to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework to monitor implementation progress and to evaluate the economic and financial impact of the project.
DAL’s acting secretary Anton Benjamin, whilst signing their contract agreements, thanked the New Zealand government for its funding support towards the expansion phase.
He said with two additional provinces and the recruitment of the domestic consultants, this complemented the final phase of the programme and he expected it to run smoothly.

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