Building research capacities through development

Focus
National Agriculture Research Institute (Nari) has been undertaking various short and long term staff development programmes. ARRON INAMARA from Nari explains how it is done.

PRODUCTIVITY in any industry is determined by many factors.
Capacity building is one of, if not the most essential of them.
This is particularly vital for agencies that are involved in research for development in the agricultural sector.
Over the last 20 years, the National Agriculture Research Institute (Nari) has been undertaking various short and long term staff development programmes.
These have helped it to both up-skill existing personnel and groom new ones to effectively undertake its mandate.
Nari’s training policy captures a wide range of the areas.
These opportunities range from on-the-job trainings through to sponsored scholarships and talent identification programmes.
On-the-job training is facilitated in the form of seminars, conferences and symposiums.
These are internal and external (sector-wide) events which provide for staff opportunities to participate in professional discussions, learn and build networks that help them in their work.
Internal seminars and workshops are undertaken either at each of our five research centres or as institute-wide engagements.
For example, the Island Regional Centre in East New Britain has had nine events; seven of these were part of the centre’s in-house training programme.
Others like the Highlands Regional Centre in Eastern Highlands has had its staff participated in three sector-wide events; one of which was done abroad.
By July, a good number of on-the-job engagements have already been had across all Nari research centres.
Sponsored scholarships are provided to help up-skill the level of qualification and competencies of staff.

Project based TOT workshops help to up-skill staff from Nari and partner agencies.

Categories of scholarships range from certificate and post-graduate diplomas all the way to bachelor and post-graduate degree programmes.
The scholarships are either supported by Nari or eternal sponsors such as other the government, non-governmental organisations, and donor agencies from outside. International scholarship schemes like the Australian Awards have seen many staff undertake and successfully complete post-graduate masters and doctoral studies overseas.
A good number of these staff have been retained and this has boosted our depth of specialists in different areas of agricultural work.
Talent identification includes the facilitation of industrial training and cadetship programme components.
The former involves arrangements with tertiary institutions where final year undergraduate students take up almost two months of work experience attachments.
Up to 10 students are engaged each year based on the area of agriculture they major in their studies.
Students who demonstrate exceptional potential are usually targeted as candidates for our cadet programme.
This year, we have continued working with a student from the University of Goroka as part of his post-graduate honours degree studies. The study is actually based on work that he had undertaken during his industrial training attachment last year.
The close partnership the institute has with leading universities in the country has created good academic and career pathways for students.
One of these is our cadetship programme.
This is a two years engagement which has been running for the past 19 years.
To date, 46 candidates have been involved in the programme.
This year, a new batch of seven cadets will be recruited.
They are considered under different categories of work.

Promoting career opportunities at Nari during the 2018 Career Expo at the Pacific Adventist University.

These categories include biotechnology, entomology, geography information systems (GIS), human resources management, asset and property management, accounting and information and communication.
There has also been a good level of retention of the cadets who have taken permanent employment with Nari.
So far, about 20 cadets have been retained to be employed fulltime with the institute.
This has been very beneficial in enhancing the depth of human resources within the Institute.
So far, three cadets have continued under the Institute’s staff development programme to attain post-graduate doctoral degrees.
Nari is keen to continue developing its human resource capacity in order to establish a pool of expert staff in targeted areas that it is expected to deliver in.
While major focus is attributed to agriculture related work, the institute is keen to also build competencies in other technical areas in order to deliver outputs of high standards in agricultural research for development.
We are grateful for the support of key partners, over the years.
We will continue to build on these partnerships so that together we can groom skilled human resources to boost the level of productivity and livelihoods in the smallholder farming sector.

  • Aaron Inamara is the information and communication officer with Nari

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