The Importance of Agricultural Innovation Shows

importance of AIS

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Author
Aaron Inamara

‘Seeing is believing’ is a slogan that best describes the essence of promotional events that are staged to attract, inform and convince potential end users of innovative products and services. This is a major reason research and development agencies tend to invest a great deal of time and effort in generating awareness about technologies initiated. NARI is no different. We have our own range of promotional and marketing platforms to provide opportunities for smallholder farmers to acquire knowledge that could improve their practice and productivity levels. One such avenue is the annual Agricultural Innovation Show (AIS).

The AIS was initiated by the NARI Council in 2007. The inaugural event was staged that year at the Sir Alkan Tololo Research Centre in Lae, Morobe province. Since then, there have been a total of 10 events. Traditionally, AIS events are staged in the month of May to coincide with the institute’s official date of inception. The show has grown over the years with increased engagement of a wide cross section of the society. It now boasts a rich blend of activities, stakeholder participation and sponsorship.

The show is a very vital engagement for the institute for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it is the flagship calendar event which gauges the participation of all of NARI’s five regional research centres, for information sharing and knowledge exchange with our stakeholders. The show offers an ideal avenue for the centres which are specialized in varying areas of research to showcase their work. For example, the 2017 and 2018 AIS featured new lines of high yielding and disease tolerant varieties of sweetpotato and taro. Another noteworthy innovation featured was the recently launched galip nut brand and its novel range of product lines. These were innovations developed at the Highlands, Momase and Islands research stations, respectively.

Besides our own innovations, the work of NARI’s key partners is also showcased at the AIS. This is especially significant where collaborative projects have piloted life-changing programmes in the smallholder sector. Prominent partners include the Trukai Industries, Fresh Produce Development Agency and Farmset Limited, among others. These agencies proudly promote recent impact projects such as the solar rice mill; the family farm team concept; and new lines of livestock feed products. The highlight of their exhibitions is usually the catchy, live demonstrations of appropriate technologies. Importantly, their involvement underlines the value of public-private sector partnership.

Community-based farmer groups also use the showpiece event to tell their own stories of success. Often these narratives feature technologies which have been sourced from NARI by cooperatives aligned with Farmer Resource Centres; the PNG Women in Agriculture Development Foundation; and even individual model farmers. A good example is the work of the South Waghi Organic Food Farmers Association in expanding interest in the farming of recently released pathogen tested sweetpotato varieties and bulb onions. Another is the inspiring testimony of how a woman farmer in Eastern Highlands has been able to turn K30.00 worth of African yam seeds into a successful African yam production and wholesale business.

Creation of networks between stakeholders is another advantage of the AIS. There is great opportunity for interaction among the different agencies as well as between them and private citizens. The high level of exposure has afforded participating agencies the time and space to exchange information; appreciate each other’s specialties; and drive negotiations for potential collaborations. Individual farmers and interested persons also have the privilege of making connections with development agencies and initiating dialogues that could benefit their farming endeavours, in the long run.

The show also serves as an educational recreation. It offers an opportune time for schools and students to collate information of various themes and use. Over the years, primary and secondary school students have prominently graced the showground; surfing information booths and getting firsthand responses from persons knowledgeable in different subjects of enquiry. This adds experiential value to the information provided in the form of flyers, pamphlets, posters and multimedia files.

Since last year, a new activity has been added to give the show more traction and relevance. This happened when a second day was incepted to facilitate a policy forum. The theme for 2018 was: “Poultry Biosecurity”. This year the focus shifts to climate change with the theme: “Building Climate Resilient Agriculture and Food Systems in PNG”. Having a forum not only gives more significance to the AIS; it also draws synergy among key stakeholders for discursive presentations and dialogues to help frame policies that would guide the sector.

Preparations are well advanced for the staging of this year’s event. The show committee has been working diligently to ensure that all logistical arrangements for security though to the policy forum are well set and ready to roll. We invite you to come celebrate with us another wonderful AIS showpiece from the 29th to the 30th of May. For more information about AIS 2019, contact Jenny Anima on email: jenny.anima@nari.org.pg and telephone: 478 4000 or 478 4100.