EUARD project closes on high note

participants posing for a group photo

The European Union funded Agricultural Research and Development project was successfully completed with a final closing workshop at NARI HQ in Lae from February 4-5 2016.

This five-year (2011-2015) regional project was about the 'Generation and adaptation of improved agricultural technologies to mitigate climate change-imposed risks to food production within vulnerable smallholder farming communities in Western Pacific countries (PNG, Solomon Island and Vanuatu)'.

NARI was the lead and implementing organisation while the main partners were the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Solomon Islands; Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Vanuatu; and the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, Austria.

Project activities were undertaken in seven sites in PNG and three each in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and covered six components - crop improvement, crop diversification, livestock development, soil and water, socio-economics and communication and networking.

During the closing workshop, component leaders presented the successes and lessons learnt. Model farmers also shared their new experiences and learnings, and how some of those have improved their farm productivity and livelihoods. A wide range of appropriate interventions were introduced to a large number of farmers in some of the rural communities vulnerable to climate change and related stresses in all three countries.

A series of training and demonstrations were conducted on improved livestock husbandry and feeding systems; crop improvement of staples such as sweet potato; crop diversification through vegetables, yam, cassava and rice; post-harvest and processing of kaukau and cassava; soil fertility improvement and water harvesting methodologies.

A key element of the approach was that farmers were involved in field research from which they could learn and adopt best practices based on outputs on their own farms.

The PNG sites were Derin and Murukanam in Madang, Kopafo in Eastern Highlands, Alkena and Kiripia in Western Highlands, and Hisiu and Yule Island in Central province. In the Solomon Islands, the project was implemented at Aruligho in Guadalcanal, Buma in Malaita and Hunda-Kena in the Western Province. Sites in Vanuatu were Siviri and Malafau in North Efate, and Middlebush on Tanna Island.

The project was rated as a success with opportunities for further collaboration. Not only did farmers benefit in accessing relevant technologies but a lot was also achieved in terms of capacity development in a number of areas include research, human resource, facilities, information and networking.

The closing was witnessed by the European Union - the major sponsor; representatives of partner organisations in Solomon Island and Vanuatu, Provincial Department of Agriculture and Livestock, selected model farmers, and other stakeholders.