SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Micronesia
January 1 - December 31, 2011
Summary of 2011 PDP Activities and Results
In 2011, Micronesia sustainable agriculture professional development activities included training and demonstration in compost-making and use of compost in coral island organic gardening, container gardening, and compost as a the main soil amendment in the farmers’ fields. Farmers, homemakers and students were involved in these activities held at different times at various locations at each of the state sites (counties).
A two-day training to be conducted at four of the state sites (counties) is being postponed as the subcontract for the same was not issued on time.
The following SARE-funded activities were carried out using a previous no-cost extension grant (2009-2010): A sustainable agriculture strategic plan update; a compost demonstration facility; and a client database reporting system.
The strategic plan update was for our sustainable agriculture strategic plan – Plan for the Future - developed in 1995 and mostly outdated in terms of training needs and emerging issues. The update is in print at this reporting, and hard copies will be provided to Western SARE as soon as completed.
Through a collaborative effort of different agencies, and with the use of funds from Western SARE and other sources, a compost demonstration facility initially funded by a previous SARE grant was completed, with perimeter fencing, a compost shed equipped with both concrete compost bins and wire-mesh baskets, and a training/demonstration area with chalkboard. On display at the compost facility are container gardens planted with cucumber, tomato and eggplant. A portable drylitter piggery unit and a portable chicken coop are also on display in the facility. Container gardening using compost were also on display.
A client database was developed to be used by the SARE coordinator producing agent/client reporting by Plan of Work (POW) programs. Micronesia POW consists of the five NIFA priority areas and two local initiatives – Aquaculture and Family, Youth & Communities. The client database will capitalize on an existing online report for the College of Micronesia and will utilize monthly reports to produce a summary report with number of clients per agent by state site for each of the seven POW programs. Use of the database will improve reporting of sustainable agriculture activities throughout Micronesia and will eliminate the confusion in reporting of clients and number of contacts. The use of the SARE funds for this database was approved by Western SARE and would still need to have the final approval of the COM Director.
Context and Overview
Micronesia consists of both high volcanic and coral islands. Production of local food, especially of nutritious vegetables, is foreign to the populations, and use of green leaf is often compared to feeding animal with grasses. Directly related to lack of vegetables in the diet is the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the islands. Food security is an issue that is being addressed through Extension programs. Production constraints on these islands include infertile soil, limited arable land, unfavorable climate and weather conditions, high cost of imported production inputs, lack of technical expertise, lack of marketing opportunities, cultural and political issues and priorities, and lack of alternate methods of production.
The next grant application will introduce Hydroponic production as an alternative production method that will help in the production of local food crops and vegetables, especially for food security and a healthy population.
Activities and Methods
The SARE PDP mini grant, as initially approved by SARE, was used for the major expenditure for the compost demonstration facility, including wire baskets for composting and gardening. The same funds also initially approved by SARE and when approved by the Director will be used for the client database. For the strategic plan update, each of the three colleges in Micronesia conducted its own stakeholder inputs results, which were put together for the 2012 Strategic Plan Update. An electronic copy of the update was sent to SARE in December 2012. A final copy is being printed.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products
Western SARE PDP will pay for the strategic plan update, in print, at this reporting.
Impacts and contributions
No specific figure to report at this time; however, evidence of the use of compost is shown with people visiting the demonstration facility (Pohnpei) and the level of participation in composting and organic gardening (Majuro).
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action
Compost and organic gardening for the coral atoll islands is an indication of ag professional learning from previous year events - the Organic Certification Training conducted in 2010 at the University of Guam and increased knowledge and skills also were results of a SARE-funded training conducted in Kosrae in 2009.
Twenty one of 25 agriculture extension agents are now able to discuss and demonstrate compost making and use of compost in the field. Four agents have started to demonstrate organic gardening.
As a direct result of this collaborative effort for the compost demonstration facility, a piggery support council was established. The council is made up of the partnership for the compost demonstration project and other relevant agencies and NGOs. The following themes were identified during the strategic planning session: Conservation, Health and Economic. Associated with these themes are three strategic objectives: (1) Piggery operations – All piggeries with appropriate waste management system with the following improvement systems, e.g. drylitter technology; modern washdown systems; anaerobic digester or biogas system allowing piggery operations to fully utilize pig manure and to reduce health hazards from unmanaged pig wastes; (2) Public Awareness – An inventory of training materials available by each agency will be conducted. These materials will be assembled and tailored toward specific clients. Conduct workshops at demonstration sites for farmers to become aware of the benefits of improved piggery designs; (3) Management and coordination – Coordinate amongst partners and promote shared responsibility for activities related to piggery management. Expand to include community members and grant writing.
Involvement of others in state PDP planning and implementation
Micronesia islands are spread apart geographically and mandated by three different national governments, thus one advisory committee is neither practical nor applicable. Each of the islands groups has its own advisory council with different composition. In the FSM four states, the advisory council meets once every quarter to review reports and the annual report submitted to USDA NIFA.