Connecting the Dots – Off-Season Fruit and Vegetable Production

“So what the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network did was to bring all the technology together, then connect the technologies with the people, and then connect the people with other people. When you get it right, then you have enabled people to run with it in their own way, at the national and community level.”

Kyle Stice, Manager, Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network

 

Fruit and vegetable production in the Pacific is generally highly seasonal, with very little production of many crops during the hot, wet-season months. This often pushes prices up dramatically and for farmers who take the step into off-season production, it can be highly profitable. Off-season production is rarely about only one thing however; it is about connecting the dots through a range of different technologies and utilising a variety of tools to achieve results. This can make it difficult for many farmers to get started effectively.

Off-season fruit and vegetable production was therefore highlighted as a priority by many farmer organisations across the region. There already existed a large body of great knowledge and technology, but much of it wasn’t readily available to farmers.

The regional work was spearheaded by holding a farmer training on technologies supporting off-season vegetable production in 2015. This gave farmer organisations from across the Pacific a broad understanding of what was required to produce off-season, and the ability to go back to their members and work out their local and national priorities.

The MTCP2 programme then stepped in to fund a series of farmer-to-farmer learning exchanges around off-season fruit and vegetable production. These exchanges involve farmers from one Pacific farmer organisation, who have the know-how, visiting the farmers of another farmer organisation to provide the training. This model of using farmers to train other farmers, with most of the training occurring on the farm and in the field has proven to be very effective. Refining this farmer-tofarmer model through the lessons learnt from successes and failures has been another big impact of the programme and is discussed further in the Samoa section of this report.

Around the region there have been many successes from these off-season fruit and vegetable farmer-to-farmer exchanges. They have proven to be profitable for farmers, as well as helping to address food security issues in Pacific Island countries by increasing the quantity and quality of local produce available all year round.

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