SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Micronesia
January 1 - December 31, 2014
Summary of 2014 State/Protectorate PDP Activities and Results:
With the approval of the SARE PDP Training Coordinator, funds for the 2014 Micronesia State Implementation program was dedicated to support travel of six agriculture extension agents to attend the SARE funded Agriculture Infrastructure conference held in Guam for the Pacific Islands from May 19 - 21, 2014. Sending the participants to the conference was a sound decision; it was a great opportunity for participants to interact and learn on more topics and presentations than normally given at one training session. It was a win-win situation as they shared information about sustainable agriculture programs and related activities and constraints in Micronesia and at the same time were exposed to new knowledge and information and established linkages with other professionals. Another 14 individuals, including farmers and entrepreneurs, partner agencies, SARE grant recipients, researchers with split extension appointment, and administrators from Micronesia islands attended the conference. SARE, SARE PDP, and the College of Micronesia (COM) provided travel support.
Context and Overview:
The Micronesia sustainable agriculture program contributes to professional development, providing knowledge and skills to agriculture extension agents at the three colleges in Micronesia. The three colleges are Palau Community College, PCC; College of Micronesia-FSM, COM-FSM; and the College of the Marshall Islands, CMI; a total of seven campuses.
Some of the Extension agents completed high school and high school level agriculture training or attended agriculture vocational schools. SARE PDP training and workshops have been very useful in planning and in implementation of planned programs under the Micronesia-wide Combined Research and Extension five-year rolling Plan of Work (POW). Knowledge and skills acquired from trainings have been useful for extension agents in developing and updating their POWs and in implementation of assigned POW Planned Programs.
The POW itself consists of six Planned Programs; four of which are USDA NIFA priority areas, including Global Food Security and Hunger, Climate Change, Childhood Obesity, and Food Safety, all of which have to do with or are related to the concepts of sustainable agriculture.
In addition to trainings and workshops, agriculture extension agents and clients increased awareness in the area of sustainable agriculture through access to information and SARE printed materials and publications on the SARE webpage, DVDs, thumb drives provided by Western SARE, and participation in surveys and discussions. A total of 16 publications and printed materials were distributed to the six extension sites in Micronesia. More than 30 DVDs and flash drives loaded with technical information, including publications and videos were also distributed.
Activities and Methods:
Two Western SARE officials, Dr. Teryl Roper, then incoming Director for the Western SARE, and Mr. Jim Freeburn, SARE PDP Training Director, visited Pohnpei before going to the Guam conference. While in Pohnpei they visited farms, including a SARE funded aquaculture project, a compost demonstration facility, and a commercial farm and market outlet owned by a family, and visited the famous Nanmadol Ruins. They were able to learned firsthand issues relating to sustainable agriculture, including unsustainable production, lack of agriculture inputs, and cost and market limitations.
Six extension agents attended the SARE funded Agriculture Infrastructure conference held in Guam, May 19 - 21, 2014.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Intention, and Action:
Participants in the Guam conference reported increased awareness in the field of marketing and marketing of specific commodities, production and processing constraints, and possible solutions. Established linkages with other professionals were probably the most important changes in professional knowledge, intention, and action as indicated by response to questions posted as follow-up for the conference and for the purpose of this report.
Some examples in change in knowledge as reported are collaborative marketing, food safety, value adding, and project examples - breadfruit, coconut processing, vegetable, etc. Reports also indicated learning about SARE people and SARE grants was very important as meeting people and learning of the grants have already changed their intention for future actions.
One of the participants reported she was able to complete 39 brochures with the use of other project funds after she attended the conference. Another indicated a showcase stemmed from attending the conference. Another responded to the survey question that she is now able to understand and relate to marketing impediments include quarantine procedures, high transportation costs, and need for regular supplies of produce and products.
Another participant who already was making taro flour before attending the conference indicated the need to increase his processing facility to produce enough for demand of his flour.
Some examples of intentions and ideas to add to program delivery or seek for more information either as direct results of knowledge gained or being inspired by interaction with other participants at the conference: Local Products Showcase, Tuning-up Your Farm for Improved Performance; Greater Safety, and Smoother Profits Training; Breadfruit flour processing and opportunities.
Copra processing and opportunities: Dissemination of food safety handouts during Food Technology and EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) classes and other civic events; and finally ideas for future research project proposals learned from presentations, field trip, from sharing, and from grant-writing workshop, e.g. there is a $10 billion gluten-free market that could be filled by breadfruit, a crop that is wasted during peak seasons in the islands in Micronesia.
As indicated elsewhere in this report, one participant was able to complete 39 brochures in only a few months after attending the Guam conference; according to the author the printed materials were not funded by SARE. However, her attendance at the conference was a catalyst.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
It is not possible to have a PDP or SARE advisory committee because of the great distance between islands, making a face-to-face meeting or teleconference very expensive and unaffordable. Consequently the only communication means possible is by email. However, each of the six sites (islands) has a Cooperative Research & Extension (CRE) advisory council. These councils are consulted and their inputs are used for research and extension projects, including training proposals.
Inputs for state grants are solicited through a wide range of participation involving extension agents and researchers and administrators (VPs and Dean) of each of the three colleges. Inputs are also gathered through collaboration and cooperative efforts with partner agencies like local governments, NRCS and Agriculture, Education and Public Health, NGOs, and farmers.
In some cases traditional leaders are consulted for their inputs and their blessings for projects being developed in their jurisdictions. In all cases the Extension Director is involved in the decision of type of training.