The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation Leaves Behind A Noble Legacy
CTA will close in December after 35 years of serving some of the world’s most vulnerable communities IMAGE: Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands
“CTA staff and management are incredibly proud to have worked for an organisation that has contributed to transforming agriculture across developing countries through access to technology, innovation and knowledge sharing.”
For over the past 35 years, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) provided information, capacity building and practical support to almost 80 countries including the Pacific.
In a statement released on their blog, CTA Director Michael Hailu said the EU-funded institution established to support farmers in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific will come to a close in December 2020.
“Our priority now is to ensure an orderly closure and provide as much support to our partners going forward as possible.”
Having operated under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, CTA helped advance food security, resilience and inclusive economic growth in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities through innovations in sustainable agriculture.
Hailu said: “CTA is proud to have driven the agenda on a number of topics related to rural and agricultural development and have facilitated exchange and learning.”
“CTA may not exist as an institution but the momentum of our work will continue and we are proud of the legacy we leave behind.”
Organised Farmers as Partners in Agribusiness – Optimising The Performance Of Producers’ Organisations
In September 2018 seven representatives of farmer organisations and government ministries participated in an international course organized by Netherland’s Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation(WCDI).
CTA’s Senior Programme Coordinator for Science and Technology Policy, Judith Ann Francis says the international course (Organised Farmers as Partners in Agribusiness – Optimising the Performance of Producers’ Organisations) has seen an increase on the awareness of the value chain and more.
“Following the training, pilots were conducted to map priority value chains in Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Marshall Islands.”
“We also adopted a joint process for the development of a prototype towards upgrading priority local foods crops and fisheries value chains.”
The aim she said was about making a difference for thousands of Pacific family farms and communities.
“The seven Pacific experts are ‘game changers’ in their organisations and countries and will provide future technical backstopping for nutrition-sensitive value chain mapping, prototype development for an inclusive business model and designing a training course and the delivery of in-country training.”
Strengthening Farmers’ And Producers’ Organisations In The Pacific
In May 2019 regional farmers and agricultural organizations met in a business development and empowerment discussion to maintain and grow the value chain for the agriculture sector.
An extension of the project Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands, and its programme component hosted by WCDI, the forum focused on two workshops; Cross Learning and the Pacific Mini-Optimising the Performance of Producers’ Organisations (OPPO).
Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Agriculture in his opening address said enhancing Pacific agribusiness and value chain performance was key to developing the sector.
“Engaging in dialogue and sharing experiences is encouraged on critical issues, a selected few will make direct grounds of their organisation’s business plans to financiers and development partners.”
With the support and guidance of the WCDI OPPO team, seven Pacific mini OPPO alumni analyzed seven priority value chains, profiled their farmer organisations and business relationships while also developing inclusive business plans.
Mini OPPO alumni and Certification Officer of Kokonut Pacific Ltd, Mary Jane Hou Kaikari believes the tools will strengthen working relationships between farmers.
“My business case is based on producing virgin coconut oil for both the international and domestic markets.”
“It focuses on the farmer organisation in the areas of governance and management, I believe the tools we’ve learned will be of great benefit not just for the Solomon Islands but farmers in the Pacific,”she said.
Building a sense of trust and strengthening the relationships among actors of the value chain was a key area for taro farmer and Mini OPPO alumni, Junior Fata of Samoa.
“There is a lot of opportunity to provide trainings and encourage farmers to join the organization, not only for taro but you can do this with other commodities like bananas and coconut.
He said: “This isn’t new but as farmers our mindsets have to change and adapt with the times.”
CTA’s Programme Coordinator for Science and Technology Policy, Judith Ann Francis explained placing farmers and small to medium agri-enterprises at the forefront of inclusive business models was in line with the CTA/IFAD/PIFON commitments in capacity building.
“It enhances governance and improves trust between producers and buyers and financiers, producers and government.”
“The OPPO approach was aimed at strengthening the professionalism of farmers’ and producers’ organisations by equipping participants with the right tools and approaches to improve their professional performance and agribusiness relations,” she said.
Francis added the seven Pacific OPPO alumnis have been trained with the OPPO and new tools to support value chain and agribusiness development at the national level.
The seven successfully co-facilitated their first training in Fiji for 40 regional representatives of farmer and producer organisations across the Pacific.
They are Joanna Bourke (Nishi Trading – Tonga), Junior Fata (Samoa Farmers Association – SFA – Samoa), Jiu Daunivalu (Fiji Crop & Livestock Council – Fiji), Karness Kusto (Marshall Islands Organic Farmers Association – Marshall Islands), Routan Tongaiaba (Ministry of Environment, Lands & Agriculture Development – Kiribati), Timote Waqainabete (Nature’s Way Cooperative – Fiji) and Maryjane Hou Kaikari (Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association – Solomon Islands).
Optimising Performance Of Pacific Agricultural Value Chains
Understanding the Agricultural Value Chains is still fairly new in the Pacific.
Following a Workshop in Honiara, Kokonut Pacific’s Maryjane Hou Kaikari says there is room for more training.
“Prior to the workshop a lot of our coconut oil producers didn’t see themselves as entrepreneurs so it was an eye-opening experience for them.”
“The OPPO tools not only help increase their incomes but encourages them to produce work to a higher standard,”she said.
The workshop focused on optimizing the performance of the Pacific agricultural value chains and brought together 10 actors of the coconut value chain including an exporter, transport provider, aid donor, distributor and producer.
“I made the decision to split the 8 tools over 2 days so that the participants can have ample time to digest the concepts.”
“Day 1 started with an introduction to the OPPO approach before exploring its first tool; Farmers Business Cases, Farmer Profiling, Governance Management Performance Tool, Capital Pentagon Tool before finishing off with the Value Chain Analysis,” she said.
“We also touched on farmer entrepreneurship which lead the discussions of Day 2 on action planning for inclusive business models and the collective actions for Farmer Organisations.”
Kaikari said participants found the training valuable as they shared their experiences and plans for the future.
“Most commented on the importance of the Governance Management Performance Tool particularly for Producer Organisations to assess their managerial, governance and performance for its members because it shows areas for improvements.”
“The farmer profiling tool also generated a lot of interest in the way it can also be used as a marketing strategy to tell the story behind products produced by farmers,” she said.
Participants were also given the opportunity to understand their role along the value chain.
“Mapping the value chain was interesting because participants saw the many actors that were involved, they also began to understand the increase in the value of their product as it moved from field to fork,” she said.
Kaikari said the training also highlighted for participants the importance of self-reliance.
“The principle to heat up ‘cold’ money for approaching agriculture development gets everyone differently which is applicable to many agricultural projects in the country.”
“Farmers realize they must work hard to achieve what they want, as well as align their business needs alongside support programmes that aid donors provide,” she said.