SUVA, Fiji – Dr. Lope B. Santos III of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) visited the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of Pacific Community (SPC) and the Crops Extension Division of the Ministry of Agriculture here on 9 February 2018. Both the SPC and the Ministry of Agriculture are partners of SEARCA in the implementation of the IFAD funded Supporting Smallholder Farmers in Asia and Pacific-Islands Region through Strengthened Agricultural Advisory Services (SAAS).
The SPC, composed of 22 member countries in the Pacific, facilitates the project's sub-regional activities of the Pacific Islands Rural Advisory Services (PIRAS) and country-level actions in Fiji in partnership with the Crops Extension Division of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Project activities include capacity development, knowledge sharing, policy dialogues, and learning events in promoting agricultural extension and rural advisory services.
The visit reviewed the progress of the SAAS project and discussed support for the immediate activities in the first semester of 2018. Mr. Gibson Susumu, Extension Officer of SPC and SAAS focal person, provided an update on the current priorities including the development of training curriculum based on the New Extension Learning Kit (NELK) and convening of the Governing Board of PIRAS. Mr. Jone Sovala, Director of Crops Extension Division of the Ministry of Agriculture of Fiji, added that the Ministry of Agriculture will organize a national conference of agricultural extension professionals this year.
Dr. Santos also visited some farming communities in Suva that are in need of agricultural and extension services for smallholder farmers but with huge potential for agricultural production.