Summary of 2015 State/Protectorate PDP Activities and Results :
In 2015 the state implementation program in Micronesia addressed key issues by focusing on Small Holding and Climate Smart Agriculture. The aim of the project was to educate and train extension agents, agriculture professionals and farmers in climate‐smart agriculture practices. Training workshops objectives were: (1) to impart knowledge on the effect of climate change in the small islands and its implications on smallholder agriculture, (2) to provide training on climate‐smart agriculture and climate‐smart adaptation strategies.
Altogether 49 participants -- comprised of extension agents, farmers, students and community members -- attended the two-day training workshops organized and conducted at three of the six sites in Micronesia. The three sites include Majuro, College of the Marshall Islands; Chuuk, College of Micronesia-FSM; and Koror, Palau Community College. Resource and trainers were two Researcher/Extension Specialists from the College of Micronesia-FSM. Except for Yap, all sites or counties were represented in the training workshops. The project was funded by the Micronesia State Implementation funds.
Context and Overview:
The SARE PDP Coordinator interviewed a climate change extension agent from Pohnpei who attended the training workshop conducted in Chuuk. According to the agent he learned some things; however, some of the concepts and solutions he already was aware of with different name or interpretation. He indicated the training was timely for most of the participants. In the opinion of the SARE PDP Coordinator such training should have been taking place and repeated years earlier.
Most islanders depend on subsistence agriculture that is presently affected by the impacts of climate change on soil, water, plant and animal resources, and the livelihood of these people. Associated with climate change, sea level rise is responsible for coastal erosion, saline intrusion into freshwater lenses and flooding and destruction of infrastructures and other properties. Human activities in agriculture such as deforestation and greenhouse gas emission contribute to climate change impacts to the sources of food, integrity of the environment and loss of biodiversity.
The climate change training is beneficial to a few and extension agents should be able to assist the affected population of climate change impacts, increase public awareness through education, one-to one intervention, meetings and demonstrations. Partnerships are being strengthened with other government and non-government entities with related interests in improving community adaptation to climate change impacts. Participants should be able to focus of activities that will improve practices as direct results of increase knowledge and awareness, attitudes and condition in securing their food sources.
Training and staff development activities are essential to the Micronesia’s sustainable agriculture professional development. Agriculture professional staff continued to benefit from the program. Most of the agriculture program staffs are high school graduates with many years of work experience. Some of these agriculture extension agents completed a two-year college with Associate of Arts in Agriculture. Less than a dozen have completed BA or BA degree, and only a few with Masters. At the same time a significant number of the agriculture agents are retiring or will be in the next couple of years.
The State Implementation training programs continued to play an important role in staff development and upgrading current staff in order to provide technical support and assistance to farmers and homemakers. It is worth reporting that in recent years as the program expands to include farmers, homemakers and other individuals, more non-traditional clients have participated and with that the expected outcome is looking very positive. Based on a mandate by SARE the effort has since been expanded to include farmers and producers and NGOs.
Western SARE State Implementation program have played a major role in sustainable agriculture development in all Micronesia islands. Training programs continued to contribute to staff development in Micronesia, and thus their capability of the workforce and participating farmers.
Activities and Methods:
Workshop sessions include presentation and discussion and demonstration where appropriate. Trainers would elaborate specific idea or issue in a PowerPoint presentation and encourage discussions. Also, a wrap-up session is held after each day of training. Each of the sessions was combined with active discussions and question and answer sessions. The training workshop consisted of six sessions as listed below. The description for each of sessions below is an edited (shorter version) of the trainers report.
Session 1: Smallholder farming - The learning objective of this session was to understand the concept of smallholder farming. This session focused on the basic characteristics of smallholder farming and its significance, small farms as a model of inputs and outputs and resource flows, analysis of small farms as individual elements and factors of production and the importance and relevance of small farms in the region in terms of food security, productivity, maintenance of agro-biodiversity and their contribution to viable communities.
Session 2: Climate change impacts that you can expect – Emphasis was on factors the Micronesian region has to concentrate that are influencing agriculture, land resources, water resources, and biodiversity. This presentation focused on areas such as agriculture and climate change; changing climate conditions; increased biotic stresses; potential agricultural impacts; livestock production vulnerable; climate change causes; climate change impacts; types of adaptation; complex interactions of temperature and precipitation; building agricultural resilience; and climate change solutions.
Session 3: Climate change impacts on small holder farming – Learning objectives of this sessionwere to understand the causes of climate change and its effects on the Micronesian region, to understand how current and future weather events impact local agricultural systems. This session covered in detail the causes of climate change, El Nino, La Nina and the Southern Oscillation phenomena, general effects of climate change.
Session 5: Climate-smart adaptation strategies – Learning objectives were to understand the vulnerability and adaptation, to understand the concept of climate-smart agriculture and different climate-smart adaptation strategies. This session covered topics such as the type and severity of climate change impacts, concept of risk, hazard, vulnerability, mitigation, adaptation, vulnerability assessment, climate change risks on small islands, and developing an adaptation strategy. Various climate-smart agricultural practices for smallholder agriculture such as crop management, livestock management, soil and water management (soil organic matter, mulching, fallow, manure management, composting, improved fertilizer, etc.)
Session 6: Improving soil fertility and farm productivity – Emphasized composting, soil amendment to improve farm productivity. This presentation covered all aspects of composting and application such as compostable materials -- green and brown, perfect carbon and nitrogen ratios, shredding of green and brown material, composting bin requirement, activators, moisture content, aeration, compost preparation and land application and soil amendments for vegetables and staple food crops.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
A Training Manual was prepared and used for the training workshops. It is available upon request.
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Intention and Action:
The SARE PDP Coordinator was not present in any of the training workshops to actually do an evaluation and review of Impact and Change in participants’ knowledge. The following were reported by one of the trainers; actual statements.
- A better-informed target group (workshop participants) with increased knowledge about the characteristics of smallholder systems.
- Knowledgeable participants with increased awareness on the effect of climate change in small islands and smallholder systems.
- Well-informed participants with increased knowledge on various climate-smart adaptation strategies.
A pre and post-test conducted for the participants at each of the three training workshops indicated there was an increase in knowledge. At the time of this report the SARE PDP Coordinator was not able to receive any more details. He will attempt to do so and provide addendum to this report, if allowable.
Linkages are strengthened with agencies, namely Agriculture and with NGOs, e.g. Pohnpei Farmers Association (PFA).
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
For this project the SARE PDP Coordinator communicated to all the six sites in Micronesia, from West to East: Palau, Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Majuro to solicit inputs on training needs. Not all responded; however, those who responded all agreed training on Climate Change is essential and timely. The SARE PDP Coordinator contacted all sites and finally two Researcher/Extension Specialists, each assigned to Yap Cooperative Research and Extension and the other to Kosrae Cooperative Research and extension agreed to be resource for the training. All of the communications were conducted via email, except for one personal contact.
It should be noted an advisory committee cannot be had as it would not be possible hold a meeting due to (1) Micronesia islands are made up of three island nations, each with its own government (2) Communication is very limited due to cost and (3) It is not possible to have face-to-face meeting because of unaffordable air fare from one island to another Soliciting inputs is mainly be email communication. Even with emails, Internet connection is not the same on all islands.