|Workshop facilitators Prof Anthony Youdeowei (left) and Mohammed Umar (right, black hat) with some of the participants and farmers displaying copies of extension materials at Kamba village|
Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Ano Pala said that due to the importance of agriculture as the backbone of the economy, there would always be a big demand for simple technical information relevant to the needs of the farmers.
Pala made the call when closing a sub-regional training course on production of agricultural extension material held in Madang recently.
The workshop was funded by Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Institute for Research and Extension Training in Agriculture (IRETA), with support from the Papua New Guinea government, and included participants from Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and PNG.
Pala said there would always be more demand for agricultural information and extension material, despite PNG experiencing a minerals boom which would not last forever.
He said agricultural officers must be trained with knowledge and skills to continue producing appropriate and simple extension materials in the form of booklets, posters, pamphlets, and others to pass onto farmers.
“In the Pacific region, a strong demand exists for simple technical information relevant to the agriculture sector,” Pala said.
“The information is often available in forms that are not directly useful to extension agents.
“These forms include research reports, technical bulletins, etc.
“Extension materials become more relevant and useful if they can be restructured, rewritten and simplified, according to the needs of different target groups.”
Pala said he was pleased that participants from the three Melanesian courtiers were able to share their experiences and work together to produce extension material relevant for farmers to use in the region.
“Agriculture is the key sector in the region and it is worthwhile for agriculture officers to participate in such training programmes and exchange ideas,” he said,
“Farmers have the power and freedom of choice and when good simple information is provided, they can make good, judicious decisions to adopt technologies to improve production and productivity, resulting in increased profitability.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that our people have access to good information, technology and other resources so that they can be empowered to participate meaningfully in the market economy and contribute to meaningful agriculture development.”
Pala thanked CTA and IRETA for their support in facilitating the workshop in PNG.