N. Marianas Islands Report
SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Northern Mariana Islands
January 1 - December 31, 2012
Summary of 2012 PDP Activities and Results
In 2012, the PDP Coordinator was able to transfer knowledge gained from the online courses such as Reproduction and Fertility and Animal Diseases. A group of producers from each islands benefited from gaining technical know-how on Artificial Insemination. It is a continuous process of learning for most of the participants with swine and cattle species. Trained professionals were encouraged to perform demonstrations with other producers. They were also expected to perform and share their knowledge in special events by doing demonstrations in agriculture fair shows, local fiesta events and CREES open house.
Among the activities are SARE displays on the islands of Rota and Tinian during local fiestas, promoting SARE-funded projects such as the:
- Utilization of local feedstuffs for animals -- feed formulation and feed replacement;
- PDP project -- Alternative Herbal Plants for Livestock Healthcare in the Western Pacific;
- Promotion of aquaphonics -- the value added products and marketing;
- Upgraded cattle and swine display as a result of the artificial insemination project.
There was also a supplemental hands-on workshop offered by trainee Capt. Ernest Torres on the islands of Tinian, Saipan and Rota for additional eight (8) ranchers on Artificial Insemination (AI).
This year’s activities also proved change in action of farmers in adopting artificial insemination in their operation. The mission was also complemented by training of almost 70 ranchers in a series of workshops offered by Marianas Grazing Academy, of which the PI is a member.
Two NMI extension professionals participated in the Strengthening Agriculture Infrastructure Conference in Portland, Oregon. This event opened up opportunities for the Pacific Islands to do a similar event in Guam in 2014. This event exposed the PI to various potential infrastructure issues that need to be addressed in an island setting.
Additional program promotion is planned for the 2013 Saipan Agricultural Fair in June. AI trainees will be demonstrating swine AI to the public. There will also be a booth display showcasing SARE programs. Certain remaining funds will also be used for the preparation for the Guam 2014 Infrastructure conference by administering a needs assessment survey in NMI.
Also, travel funds are allocated to do a poster presentation in the upcoming Animal Science 2013: Animal and Dairy Sciences International Conference, where the PDP Project on Alternative Herbal Medicine was selected. This will provide the PDP coordinator avenues to showcase the project and collect new ideas and gather more information relating to sustainable agriculture that are beneficial to NMI clients.
Context and Overview
NMC-CREES mission is to focus the island’s programs so that stakeholders will directly benefit. It’s been a decade since livestock and agriculture were considered backbone industries for the islands and they are neglected due to island leaders not making it a priority. The need for a slaughterhouse, the genetic dilemma of inbreeding and high cost of livestock feeds are the most prohibiting factors to success.
The state PDP SARE focus addressed these problems by offering training workshops and on-site demonstrations to our ranchers and professional extension agents in subject such as Aquaculture, Feed Nutrition, Livestock Genetic Upgrading, value-added and various island sustainability topics. These training sessions were intended to encourage extension professionals and producers to educate other farmers and ranchers, as well as homemakers, to create new alternative businesses that will be sustainable and beneficial to the community and family. The promotion of sustainable ag is still new to island producers and subjecting them to a lot of projects will have the possibility of changing their perceptions.
Activities and Methods
The following professional development sessions were funded under SARE 2012:
- PDP Coordinators Meeting in New Mexico coupled with Sustainable Ag Tour (August 2012)
- Strengthening Ag Infrastructure Conference in Portland , Oregon (December 2012)
- Rota AgFair Sustainable Ag Tour ( March 2013) -- 25 participants attended the Sustainable Ag Forum (March 2013) in Rota with local DLNR, FSA and USDA NRCS
- CREES Open House (May 2012) drew almost 500 individuals promoting Sustainable Ag Tour during the Saipan Agriculture Fair
- CREES Open House (February 2012) drew more than 600 individuals during the Tinian Hot Pepper Festival – program display booth
- Group mentoring on Animal Health programs in Saipan, Tinian and Rota with transfer of knowledge of Animal Diseases
- Small group presentations - Train the Trainers program with trainee Capt. Ernie Torres on swine and cattle AI in the three islands
Upcoming events to be funded under this grant
- June 15, 2013 - SARE booth display at Saipan Agricultural fair
- May 6 NMC Charted day and Open House CREES - SARE booth display
- Needs assessment survey for the Infrastructure Conference in Guam 2014
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products
Flyers and factsheets downloaded from SARE websites were printed and provided to our stakeholders. Tarpaulin/banner promoting SARE-funded projects is used for booth displays at open house, fiestas and ag fair events.
Impacts and Contributions
The above activities provided tremendous acquisition of new knowledge and skills not only of the PI but other extension agents and scientists who attended the Ag Infrastructure conference in Oregon as well. These provided an out-of-the-box view and widened the concept of sustainability definitions, as well as bringing up new ideas, great issues, overwhelming concerns and big opportunities for the region.
The challenges were brought by the economic crisis happening in the region which made professionals more sensitive to the needs and more considerate of projects that will bring more impacts that are driven by stakeholder’s inputs. Because of the advisory council for each islands and the peer review feedbacks, this made a change in their program to base future actions on stakeholders input, thus increasing clientele involvement and interaction. As a result, more stakeholders are more happy and satisfied. Our visibility in most events will prove that they also increased their expectations on every extension and research staff.
The continued assistance and collaborative effort with The Marianas Grazing Academy is indeed a big help in developing more professionals through their series of workshops in the CNMI.
The partnerships with USDA NRCS, Commonwealth Development Authority and Farm Service Agency in all our events had proven to support not only the professionals but also the end stakeholders - the farmers and ranchers in attaining their goals for sustainable farming.
The inclusion of youth programs in promoting sustainable agriculture with the assistance of FSA is indeed a remarkable start of great collaboration.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation
NMC CREES has its own advisory council since the NMI is so small and separated by waters. It is practical to use the same advisory groups that are composed of individuals in different professions. They usually meet once in a year before submission of our Plan of Work for USDA. In this planning summit with CREES staff, we do presentations of each program and this is followed by a forum from which a set of priorities evolve.
Evaluations are the results of feedback coming from advisory groups and stakeholders’ input. Suggestions and improvements are welcome for the betterment of promoting sustainable agriculture.