The annual Agriculture Innovation Show is set to roll from May 29-30. This is the flagship event for the National Agriculture Research Institute (Nari) since the inaugural event in 2007.
AARON INAMARA from Nari explains.
THE annual Agriculture Innovation Show (AIS) is set to roll from May 29-30.
This is the flagship event for the National Agriculture Research Institute (Nari) since the inaugural event in 2007.
The show has grown over the years with increased engagement of a wide cross section of the society.
It now boasts a rich blend of activities and stakeholder participation.
One group of stakeholders who have participated significantly over the last 10 shows is the model farmers.
Nari is always proud of its model farmers and their accomplishments in championing different farming technologies and models, over the years.
Model farmers in Nari projects are farmers who have learnt and adopted innovations successfully in their community.
They are identified and supported through capacity building programmes to develop their levels of competency and utilised as local resource persons.
Their stories of success are also featured in the AIS to inspire the up-take of certain technologies by other farmers.
This year’s AIS will feature a good number of model farmers.
There are model farmers for various innovations which Nari has undertaken over the past 20 years from improved crop varieties, farm management and mechanisation to post-harvest and value-chain processes.
Examples include the propagation of African yam; the use of Farmer Resource Centres (FRC) for the transfer of improved crop varieties and the establishment of smallholder agri-businesses through the Family Farm Team (FFT) model.
African yam technology was developed as one of the first innovations of Nari and introduced to address food security challenges posed by stresses of extreme climatic events.
Successful results from application during the 1997 drought have generated wider interest and use of the crop across all the agro-ecological regions of PNG.
A story that is synonymous with the rise of African yam is that of Jenifer Kena; a female farmer from Eastern Highlands.
Kena first bought K30 worth of three African yam seeds in 2002 and later applied seed multiplication methods learnt at Nari’s 2004 Field Day in Lae, to propagate the crop.
“I only completed grade 8 but have always wanted to improve my level of literacy and support my family,” she said.
“I was fortunate to participate in an African yam training offered by Nari during that time and embraced that opportunity wholeheartedly.”
Kena is now the proud owner of a successful agri-business known as Bilati African Yam Producers and Suppliers (BAYPS).
BAYPS collaborates with the Department of Agriculture and PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation to provide wholesale services that link smallholder farmers to markets within and outside of the Highlands.
Kena has confirmed her participation at this year’s AIS.
There is a good pool of model farmers associated with the FRC concept which was introduced under phase two of the rural economic development project across selected sites in all the Highlands provinces.
There are many compelling testimonies of how promoted technologies such as pathogen tested sweet potato, Irish potato and bulb onion have been widely adopted among target communities.
The participation of women farmer groups has been a defining feature of these undertakings.
This has been prominently showcased through the involvement of 10 women cooperatives under the South Waghi Organic Farmers Association (SWOFA).
Agnes Merep, the President of SWOFA and Minj FRC caretaker said the FRC Trainer of Trainers workshop has empowered her to better facilitate farmer trainings to ensure useful technologies are reaching more farmers, in her district. She is also a member of the Nari Council
“We have conducted two farmers’ trainings and eight field days for women farmers in North Waghi and Anglimp South Waghi. So far, 120 women farmers have been trained,” she said.
“At the end of the trainings, women farmers were presented with PT sweet potato vines and seeds of Late Blight tolerant potato for further multiplication and distribution.”
Other model farmer success stories have emerged from the FFT project over the past eight years among selected provinces in the New Guinea Islands and the Highlands.
FFT was undertaken to help breakdown educational, socio-cultural and communication barriers that hinder equal participation and benefits for women in smallholder agri-business projects.
Among the many live changing stories is that of Paulus and Helen Graham – a model couple from Jiwaka.
The project has amazingly transformed their lives from unproductive indulgences into a team that now carefully plans and manages their family farm business.
They participated in the FFT training modules which have helped them to achieve livelihood goals such as affording education for their children and building a permanent home.
Helen said: “The secret of our success is that we have learnt to understand each other more and work well together.
“This has helped us to manage our time and share roles.
These together with having a bank savings account are our greatest achievements, so far”.
The Grahams now serve as village community educators who introduce other couples and families to the FFT concept, in their community.
The 2019 AIS will also feature model farmers for other projects such as the European Union Climate Change Resilience Action and the Incentive Fund Solar Rice Mill project, among others.
All stakeholders and the general public are invited to this year’s AIS showpiece to meet model farmers, appreciate their work and initiate networks that can make real differences among our farming families and communities.