A training workshop for agricultural officers and Lead Farmers to enhance their knowledge and skills on Open Pollinated Seed Production, develop training materials and implement training programmes in Fiji’s sugar cane belt is underway at the Sigatoka Agricultural Research Station today.

The two-day workshop is  taking place in the framework of the “Improvement of Key Services to Agriculture” (IKSA) project implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC) and financed by the European Union (EU); the  SPC’s Pacific Agriculture Policy (PAPP) project, the ACIAR Integrated Crop Management Team and the Fiji Ministry of Agriculture.

“SPC is delighted to be assisting the Ministry of Agriculture to train 17 of their extension officers and 13 lead farmers in open pollinated seed production.  This workshop will result in the training of farmers to become registered growers who can supply seed to other farmers, or alternatively, it will enable farmers to become self-sufficient in producing seed for their own use.  This is a fundamental starting point for improved food security, increased seed availability and post-disaster recovery,” SPC Director General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga said.

The training workshop will cover the technical aspects of standard operating procedures and regulations to enable farmers to supply and trade open pollinated seeds. It is a practical, hands-on approach in the field which will enable farmers to learn the intricacies of plant growth, harvesting, seed extraction, processing and packaging.   Agricultural extension officers from the Western and Northern Divisions who are also a part of the training will be able to transfer their knowledge to farmers in their districts, also located within the sugar cane belt, through holding farmer training sessions over the next 10 months.

“This training of trainers in open pollinated seed production is a catalyst that will enable multiple farmer trainings that will bring the private sector into the seed production supply chain.  The participating extension officers are all from within the sugar cane belt, and this will increase the ability of farmers in these areas to grow horticultural crops.  We are also interested to see the development of a training video which will give farmers the opportunity to watch the training through a mobile device or over the internet on the SPC website.”

Background

Seed is the first determinant of future plant growth, and is one of the master keys to success in farming.  Fiji’s research stations of the Ministry of Agriculture have been producing open pollinated seeds for over 25 years for the benefit of Fiji’s farmers.  Open pollinated seeds are where the plants are grown by the Ministry, or a farmer, in an open field under strict conditions and nurtured to ensure that the seeds that are harvested from the plant are of the highest quality, and can deliver high yields, longevity and the best vegetable characteristics.

IKSA is one of several projects implemented by SPC and financed by the EU in Fiji’s sugarcane belt. These projects are linked to the EU’s Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP) programme designed to improve the livelihoods of sugarcane dependent populations, increase income and reduce poverty.

Media contacts
Debbie Singh, SPC Sugar Projects Communications Specialist │ Email: debbies@spc.int
Lauren Robinson, SPC Media Relations Team Leader │ Email: laurenr@spc.int
Jonathan Landrey, Project Manager, IKSA│ Email: johnl@spc.int