The National- Tuesday, January 25, 2011
By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
PAPUA New Guinea participants at a recent sub-regional training course on participatory production of agricultural extension material in Madang last week claimed agricultural extension service in the country is declining.
Spokesperson for PNG participants Wesley Elape said the participants strongly believed that agricultural extension services in the country as been poor for the past 20 years.
“This is due to many contributing factors and the notable is lack of agricultural extension agents committed and willing to work in rural settings,” Elape said.
He added that if agriculture extension agents were not willing to work among rural villagers, the appropriate alternative was to disseminate simplified quality extension informational material.
Elape was among 20 participants from Vanuatu, the Solomon Island and PNG who undertook training on developing and producing simplified agriculture extension materials for communicating to farmers in the Pacific.
At the closing ceremony last Friday in which Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Ano Pala officiated, Elape emphasised on a few suggestions which he highlighted to the minister.
“PNG participants jointly emphasised that:
l The knowledge, skills and attitudes gained during the training must be applied through serious review of existing agricultural information and production of additional extension materials;
l The national department of livestock take serious leading role to revive its information/ publication section through funding and logistic support; and
l Recent course participants to be engaged to work with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock information and publication section to update all current informational materials as soon as possible.
He added the participants believe the level of interaction between all stakeholders of the country’s agricultural sector is currently weak especially among state owned entities and as such, suggested that Pala considered installing policy directives and mechanisms to make the National Agricultural Council (NAC) fully functional and effective.
Pala assured the participants that he would take time to consider these.
He said that agriculture was the livelihood of almost 80% of people in the Pacific region.
“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 said.