[11 April 2013 – [Pacific Islands] The popularity of a Pacific-wide e-discussion about challenges in engaging Pacific youth in agriculture, forestry and food security, has today prompted a one-week extension.
The knowledge-sharing forum Pacific Solution Exchange (PSE) is moderating the e-discussion on behalf of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD). SPC-LRD has asked for the time extension to glean more ideas from people across the Pacific on ways to better support young farmers and overcome the perception farming is a job for ‘early school leavers’ and not a career.
Ms Maria Elder-Ratutokarua and Miriama Kunawave Brown of SPC-LRD in Suva, said the great response to the e-discussion is providing plenty of feedback and also raising awareness of this important issue. The responses will help SPC-LRD document and share relevant lessons learned, experiences and case studies.
Ms Anju Mangal, who is working in the area of information and knowledge management at SPC-LRD said, “We are keen to collect a wide range of experiences about how best to engage young men and women in agriculture and forestry, and in particular to learn how social media and other Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) may be used to develop agricultural opportunities for youth.”
“SPC-LRD plans to share these stories via the LRD website, and through printed and electronic publications to assist youth as well as people who work with youth.”
All forms of agricultural and forestry production are included, with an emphasis on finding ways to ensure opportunities are available for both young women and men interested in farming as well as helping meet the broader development objectives of enhanced food security and employment for youth in the region.
Issues discussed so far include: the need for more seedling varieties and youth training to target growth markets overseas; the ongoing struggle of youth to ‘have a voice’; Pacific youths’ mindset that farming is for subsistence living versus the reality it is becoming a high profit career option, and:
- Pacific strategies to overcome the stigma of careers in agriculture being perceived by Pacific students and youths living in urban areas as a ‘dirty job’, ‘embarrassment’ and ‘shame’;
- Palau’s first Taro Festival and how it engaged youths and helped them see farming was not only for consumption but it could also relate to cultural practices and environmental sustainabilityenhance livelihood opportunities for youth through organic agriculture;
- Tonga’s ‘Capacity of youth in organic agriculture workshop’ last month that focused on ways to enhance livelihood opportunities for youth through organic agriculture;
- Kiribati’s youth training to make coconut sugar from fresh toddy and Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), given they are among the few in the Pacific who possess these skills in a high demand market;
- Urban Fiji and how a local youth with a passion for agriculture invites others to see her amazing backyard garden, then motivates them to grow their own;
- Cook Islands’ strategies to engage youth by getting them to plant fun or interesting crops like watermelon (to make watermelon smoothies) and sweet-corn (to make popcorn).
The Pacific Solution Exchange is an email-based knowledge sharing service that enables people across the Pacific to ask each other queries and share answers, insights, experiences and lessons learned to help each other in their climate change, disaster risk and development work. It has over 1300 members including practitioners, students, government officials, international agencies, concerned Elders and community members. PSE is administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre with support from Australian Aid (AusAID).