Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Partnership in rice extension

Caption: DAL rice extension coordinator Verave Gavali (right) and JICA’s senior advisor - rural development Akamatsu Shiro during the consultation with NARI in Lae last week.-Picture by SENIORL ANZU




A smallholder rice development initiative, promoted through the “model farmer” concept by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) and the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) is set to kick-off in the Manus and Milne Bay provinces come 2011.

 This will be an extension of the village-based rice development programme to rice-growing provinces of PNG following its success in Madang and East Sepik provinces when it was first implemented between 2003-2008.

But this extension phase would involve greater collaborations with other technically-oriented organisations such as the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in order to address technical problems such as pest and disease which were encountered during the initial phase.

This was revealed in Lae last Thursday when a technical team from DAL and JICA visited NARI to seek its technical input.

DAL and JICA are promoting local rice production through the model farmer concept in which skills and knowledge are transferred to farmers in a multiplier effect fashion at village level to address for food security.

The concept is pursued by a newly-established Rice Extension Unit under DAL’s Food Security Branch.

Rice extension coordinator Verave Gavali said while the programme was a success in Madang and East Sepik, there were some technically-oriented problems such as pest and disease, soil, climate and other agro-ecological issues.

Therefore, he said DAL and JICA wanted partnership with NARI and other organisations to work together in expanding the programme so that such problems were also addressed.

JICA rice research techniques instructor Tatsuo Fujita said they would also be interested in NARI for varietal selection and farming systems research.

A senior JICA volunteer, Noboru Iwano, who has been involved in rice development in PNG for the last two years, said he had observed pest and disease as a major problem and NARI’s input was needed.

Mr Iwano added that the consumption of rice was high in PNG and all stakeholders should work in collaboration now to increase production locally.

NARI acting director-general Dr Sergie Bang said the institute would work with DAL and JICA in terms of research and development of rice.

Dr Bang said NARI had a rice and grain project which could team up in the programme in the areas of pest and disease, seed varietal selection, farming systems research and other ecological issues.

Other collaborators targeted in the programme include the Lae-based ROC Taiwanese Technical Mission to PNG and Organisation for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA), a Japanese eco-technical training centre based in Kokopo.

 Both organisations are also involved in local rice production. 

Under the programme, rice development is undertaken through model farmer approach as an extension to smallholder households.

Hundreds of farmers in Madang and East Sepik were trained as model rice farmers who in turn trained other farmers in their districts and villagers between 2003 and 2008.

These model farmers were also exposed to overseas training in various aspects of rice production.

Some of these models have also indicated to share their knowledge, skills and experiences to other rice farmers in the country.

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