12 January 2022, Apia Samoa, MAF PR. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa officers complete Israeli Agriculture Innovation Training.
Ten senior level officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS) have completed two training programs aimed at improving delivery of agriculture extension services and introducing new Irrigation and Fertigation Technology to boost farmers’ production and productivity.
The trainings were organised and coordinated by MASHAV Agriculture Training Center (MATC) and Israeli Pacific Food Security Alliance (IPFSA) through Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFAT) ACEO Crops Division, Tanu Toomata said the program was comprised of two components; the first stage (delivered between 25 January to 28 August 2021) focused on building capacity of agriculture extension officers and relevant staff from SROS.
Emphasis was directed to strengthening links between the extension officers and the farmers by developing diagnostic abilities to help MAF officers identify challenges and issues affecting farmers and apply the necessary technical assistance.
“The first component of the training allowed us to re-look at the roles and responsibilities of our agriculture extension officers, explore different approaches and solutions to the challenges they are facing so we can improve their service delivery to our farmers” said Mr Toomata “This part of the program was very beneficial and it’s been very helpful to refresh our knowledge on the tools and methods available to improve our services.”
The second component was based on the establishment of island vegetable demonstration plots to “mirror” a similar Israeli demonstration and training plot which serves as a platform for learning and cooperation. It consisted of 10 weekly meetings between 18 October – 20 December 2021, based on Irrigation and Fertigation for Vegetable Production.
This phase of the program elaborated on the nature of the different crops and dealt in depth with the calculations, measurements and analysis of water and fertilization needed by the different crops through different growth stages. According to Principal Development Officer Liu Pueata Tanielu and SROS officer, Tualupetu Togafau, their training will provide valuable knowledge for all farmers.
“Looking at the importance of irrigation systems and fertilizer use for vegetable production has really helped me with the technical aspect of selecting the appropriate irrigation technology,” said Mr Tanielu “There’s a lot of irrigation systems available but the recommendation by this program is to utilise the drip method which not only improves crop production but is also the best method for the efficient use of water resources that I have seen so far for our climatic conditions here in Samoa.”
Ms Togafau added, “Irrigation is an important practice that can significantly increase the survival rate of vegetables, especially when soil moisture is marginal and the evapotranspiration rate is higher, most definitely like here in Samoa during its dry season. This is when water retention rate of the soil gets worse in which the vegetables are observed to become wilted.”
With the increasing use of tunnel house technology in Samoa, Advisory Officer, Ioelu Iosefa, says vegetable growers will benefit greatly from adopting the new technology from Israel’s Agriculture Agency.
“A lot of people these days are now using tunnel houses and utilising tube irrigation systems however this new technology from Israel is very different. I learnt how to calculate how much water to use in each stage of vegetative growth which is a far more efficient and sustainable way of using water compared to our current practice of leaving the irrigation system on all night.”
Crops Division Principal Advisory officer, Tommy Tuuamalii also participated in the training program and is keen to share his knowledge and expertise with local farmers to help improve their production and productivity.
“The irrigation technique is not a newly introduced system and we have a lot of farmers with existing irrigation systems, but with this training, we have enhanced our understanding of the various benefits of using this system in boosting production” said Mr Tuuamalii. “We just need to build more confidence as extension workers, on the practical side of it so we can assist our farmers more effectively.”
Participants of the Training Programme by MASHAV Agriculture Training Center (MATC) and Israeli Pacific Food Security Alliance (IPFSA) include professionals of agriculture ministries and research institutes from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Salomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The establishment of the IPFSA was announced by the President of Israel, H.E Reuven Rivlin in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals during his last visit in the region as part of the global effort to end hunger and guarantee food security in developing regions.
IPFSA seeks to establish a long-term agricultural training and capacity building program, aimed at training vegetable producers and agricultural extensionists in efficient agricultural production techniques, as well as improved extension methods and skills for maximum diffusion of the know-how and to ensure the sustainability of the program.
List of MAF participants:
● Mr. Tanu Toomata – ACEO Crops Division
● Mr. Levaopolo Ricky Faatonu – ACEO Savaii Office
● Mr. Liu Pueata Tanielu – Principal Development Officer
● Mr. Tuuamalii Tommy – Principal Advisory Officer
● Mr. Fiu Sailo Pao – Senior Advisory Officer
● Mr. Faavaeolenuu. Tamoe. Tautu – Senior Advisory Officer
● Mr. Ioelu Iosefa – Advisory Officer
● Mr. George Hazelman- Development Officer SROS participants:
● Ms. Tualupetu. Togafau
● Mr. Lemauga Anesone