SPC facilitate​s the regional training on web 2.0 and informatio​n exchange

A five-day regional training for Pacific island countries and territories was held in Nadi, Fiji from 16–20 September where 27 participants from 12 Pacific states (Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) learned about the use of social media as a web 2.0 innovation to create and share content for information exchange. Representatives were not only from Government departments but also from non-government agencies like the SPC/GIZ Pacific German Regional Cooperation (GIZ) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development in Fiji (FRIEND), Women in Development, Oxfam International and World Vision.

The Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in partnership with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation EU-ACP (CTA) is hosting the web 2.0 and information exchange training. This is in the framework of the upcoming launch of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) organized by the CTA - ARDYIS project of which SPC is a key partner. In the face of agricultural development, the use of web 2.0-social media innovations encourages users to look at some examples from around the world of ways to engage youths in agriculture.

In a world of rapid change, Web 2.0 tools such as Blogs, Facebook, twitter, Google, LinkedIn and other social media networks have changed how the world works today.

In his opening speech, the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture for Fiji, Mr Ropate Ligairi said, ‘The Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture has recognised the potential of youths as they contribute immensely to the development of, not only the agriculture sector, but for the overall development of Fiji’s economy.’

He further added, ‘In recognising the needs of food security, poverty alleviation, employment and economic growth, the Government has set up a partnership with the Fiji National University to pioneer a new scholarship programme in Fiji that has two basic aims — to produce a new generation of farmers in Fiji, and to encourage young people to become farmers, and give them ability to do so’.

Mr Ligairi supports the development of young people’s knowledge and skills through the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) such as social media/web 2.0.

Mr Ligairi said, ‘The use of online tools such as facebook can change the online environment for people to share and exchange information and ideas on agricultural practices. At the Department of Agriculture, Fiji created a facebook page which promotes the use of social media technologies to engage with the agriculture community, its stakeholders and also to empower youths to participate, share and discuss the successful ventures in the area of agriculture.’
Dr Ken Cokanasiga of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community highlighted the SPC Pacific Youth Development Framework which is expected to be launched in December 2013 as an important document in promoting the development of young people in the Pacific region.

‘The Pacific Youth Development Framework will be guided by, and embraces the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy 2011–2015, developed by the Land Resources Division of SPC. The Youth in Agriculture strategy recommends actions and initiatives that all stakeholders can pursue to encourage the active engagement of youth in agriculture across the region,’ he said.

Dr Cokanasiga also cautioned the participants that here are responsibilities that need to be understood associated with the use of modern information and communication technologies and social media platforms.
He further added that, as a way to promote information sharing and exchange, SPC is 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 and Communication Technologies (ICTs) may be used to develop agricultural opportunities for youth.

A young agriculture extension officer from the remote island of Cicia, Fiji is participating at the web 2.0 training workshop. Mr Cama Tuidelaivagadra aims to enter the Yobloco competition as a challenge to showcase Cicia Island as a fully organic certified island. Mr Cama said, ‘Sharing the stories about organic farming through the use of websites and social media networks can boost the developments of rural remote communities such as Cicia especially in accessing niche markets.’