The National, Tuesday October 29th, 2013
By JAMES LARAKI
AGRICULTURAL research in many countries is public funded. It is no exception in Papua New Guinea. Our agricultural research institutions, including the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI), are established and funded by the State.
This means we have a duty to the people and we must do everything we can to ensure the people benefit and have a say on what we do.
NARI has devised a number of ways to make public awareness of what it is doing and create forums for stakeholders to contribute on how things could be done better to meet their needs.
Apart from the use of communication channels it uses to communicate with stakeholders, NARI has considered approaches to bring its research closer to communities.
One of the ways NARI has developed over the years is the field or open day concept. NARI regional centres around the country organise such events to allow guests, farming and rural communities, stakeholders and visitors to see what the institute is doing, meet scientists and technical staff, visit its campus and facilities and to share how things could be done better.
Such events bring together research and development organisations, extension service providers, the private sector, non-government organisations, women’s groups, businesses, schools, farmers and rural communities to see innovations and technologies that are being developed and tested by NARI.
The NARI highlands high altitude regional centre in Tambul, Western Highlands, organised an agricultural innovations show early this month.
This provided an opportunity for stakeholders to see what the centre is doing and how they can benefit from its activities and services. The event coincided with the opening of a new office complex and marked the NARI Tambul programme’s 10th anniversary.
Organised around the theme “Building resilient farming communities in high altitude regions of PNG”, the event provided an opportunity for the people of Tambul and visitors to see research and development activities undertaken by NARI in the high altitude region and how these could be sourced and adopted to their benefits.
Many useful and relevant farming technologies were put on display and demonstrated to the stakeholders and the public.
It provided the opportunity for the people to talk to researchers face to face, see research facilities and demonstration fields.
Similar events at other centres will be held in the coming weeks. The Southern Regional Centre, at Laloki, will be staging its field day tomorrow (Wednesday) at Bakoiudu village, Kairuku-Hiri, Central.
The Highlands Regional Centre at Aiyura will be hosting their Innovations show on November 8, while the Islands Regional Centre based at Keravat, East New Britain, will stage its event on November29.
This will coincide with opening of the new office and laboratory building that has been built after the historical facility there was destroyed by an accidental fire in April, 2011.
The institute initiated the annual innovations show concept in 2007. It is now an annual event and is usually held at the Sir Alkan Tololo Research Centre, Bubia, outside Lae. It provides an opportunity for stakeholders to display their inventions or innovations. It allows stakeholders and visitors to see these innovations and technologies and to share information and exchange views.
Along with these, the regional research and development advisory committee (RRDAC) meetings are held following the field days in each region.
This committee is made of representatives of key stakeholders in each of the four regions. This forum allows NARI to share what it is doing or planning to do in the region concerned.
RRDAC members get the opportunity to comment on what is being done, what needs to be done and how things could be further improved to address the needs of the farming communities. These forums are essential as members are aware of what is happening on the ground in their own respective communities and stand to contribute to how research agendas could be developed to serve the needs of communities better.
Besides, NARI works through community-based resource centres, information centres, commodity committees, public and private sector partnerships, piloting and out-scaling and up-scaling models and SMEs with an overall innovations systems approach to research and development.
NARI shares its innovations and technologies through the media, various shows and interactions, publications, newsletters and its website.
The institute believes establishing research centres at strategic locations around the country, and organising events such as field days, brings agricultural research closer to communities.
This allows communities and stakeholders to take ownership and work closely with the institute to develop innovations and technologies according to their needs. NARI believes by taking this approach, it can serve the public better.