Final Report for EW12-036

Training toward Transition of Subsistence Farmers to the Market Economy

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $60,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Western
State: Federated States of Micronesia
Principal Investigator:
Jim Currie
College of Micronesia-FSM
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:
includes WSARE survey

During the period of mid-May to the end of June 2014, three specialist trainers conducted training in the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia. Included in two of the training sessions were representatives from Palau and the Marshall Islands. The focus of the training sessions were 1) Farm Management and Decision Making; 2) Quality Production for the Market; and 3) Food Safety from Farm to Table. These focus areas had been determined based on results of previous surveys for the US Embassy and for the WSARE funded Farmer/Chef project in 2010. An average of over twenty-five outreach agents, economists, nutritionists and students per state attended the training sessions. Formal in class sessions were combined with active demonstrations to emphasize important activities. Student Learning Outcomes were identified for each segment of the training and a questionnaire was applied at the end of the program to assess if SLO’s were met. The questionnaires also give guidance for future efforts in training. A WSARE project assessment tool was also applied to indicate satisfaction with the program and future recommendations.

Project Objectives:

1. Purpose of the project
The purpose of the project is to train outreach agents in each FSM state to train farmers in specific areas that are desperately needed by farmers to enter the commercialization of farming and to provide quality produce in a hygienic manner to increase marketing of local produce to substitute for imported goods and improve the income of and quality of life of subsistence farmers
2. General goal of the project?
To improve marketing of quality and safe local produce to increase local revenue generation and to reduce imported foods while improving food security of the nation.
3. Objective clearly evaluated
Were the 100 trainees capable of reaching out to the community with the training information
4.Objective
The objective of the project is to train 100 or more outreach agents in each state to support farmers in transition to the market economy.
5. Is the object measureable and show indicators and standards developed from the objective
The objective is easily measured through numbers of participants and through changes in ability as indicated in pre- and post test surveys
6. Repeat all the steps until all objectives mention in the project are completed

Objectives were met.

Introduction:

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) consists of 607 islands extending 1800 miles across the archipelago of the Caroline Islands east of the Philippines. The national government in the Strategic Development Plan has identified agriculture as one of the three pillars of progress to be addressed under the present Compact of Association with the United States.
“Agriculture is not often included in the curricula of elementary schools although there is a high drop-out rate for disadvantaged children before entering high school. The only four year vocational agriculture high school – the Pohnpei Agriculture Technology School (PATS) in the FSM was closed in 2004 due to low enrollment in agriculture. Available agriculture vocational education and training is not well attended. Opportunities for adults or active farmers to receive education and training need improvement. Specialized and advanced training for agriculture specialists and extension agents is often insufficient for these personnel to adequately respond to current production problems.” (Kiyoshi Phillip, Chair – Agriculture Program, COM/FSM)
In agriculture, subsistence activities make a substantial contribution to GDP, while production for either the domestic or export market is surprisingly small. The perception persists among local growers that returns from agriculture are low and slow to materialize compared with other activities such as fishing, tourism, non-traded services, and government employment. Compact assistance has exerted upward pressure on wages, turning the terms of trade against agriculture and making agricultural production unattractive.” (Federate States of Micronesia Fiscal Year 2008 Economic Review, August 2009, GS Graduate School; Pacific Islands Training Initiative).
Background Literature Review & Support Documents:
Information and guidance was taken from:
• Asian Development Bank Economic review of the Federated States of Micronesia –The Asian Development Bank technical Assistance to the Federated States of Micronesia, Department of Resources and Development for Strengthening of Agricultural support Services ADB TA Project No. 2484-FSM
• A Rapid Assessment of Agriculture Market Participants’ Perceptions on the Potential for Transition from Subsistence Agriculture to Market Economy Agriculture, (a report to the Embassy of the US) Barber and Cruz 2014
• WSARE sponsored Farmer/ Chef linking initiative Island to Island, Farmer to Chef: An Agricultural Marketing Proposal
• FSM Agriculture Sustainability Strategic Plan – 2011
• Pohnpei State Strategic Development Plans
• WSARE 2010 sub-regional conference in Guam

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Methods:
Three training consultants travelled from state to state until they covered the four states of the FSM plus representatives from Palau and Marshall Islands. The training program was given in three primary focus areas of:
• Food Safety from Field to Table
• Agriculture entrepreneurship/ Decision making
• Sustainable Agricultural Practices
The presentations were a blend of classroom activities and outdoors, hand-on experiences. Some paper handouts were provided and every attendee received a DVD at the end of the program. The DVD contained an array of information from University of Guam, University of Hawaii, SARE and individual instructor notes. A copy will be provided with the hard copy of this report. At the end of each day the attendees were encouraged to submit a file card with their questions or requests for further information. Requests were addressed at the opening of class the following day. This seemed to be appreciated and brought students to class on time.

Outreach and Publications

no publications although one on-line training course has been prepared and can be viewed at:

http://www.micronesialandgrant.org/courses/

Outcomes and impacts:

Impacts / Outcomes:

Conceptual Model for Agriculture Transitional Training
Inputs Activities Short-Term Outcomes Long-Term Outcomes

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

see attachment

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

Potential Contributions: Throughout the system there was a broad representation of outreach agents, entrepreneurs, teachers and students who gained knowledge from this effort. Of particular note are the following:
• The training program was sandwiched around another major WSARE effort in this region, the Guam Infrastructure Conference, at which many of the same participants were present.
• By linking these two efforts, the attendees of the Transition training had a better insight into the regional efforts and potentials for commercialized agriculture.
• With approval of Dr. Jim Freeburn, this grant supported the participation of Dr. Failautusi Avegalio, Director of the University of Hawaii Pacific Business Development Center to share information on the Pacific Regional Breadfruit Flour Initiative.
• This previous point has led to information sharing sessions in 4 of the Micronesian sites including Palau, Marshall Islands, Pohnpei and Chuuk as well as Northern Marianas and Guam.
• Outreach agents within the Cooperative Research and Extension system have expressed satisfaction at the content of the training series and have a desire for similar in-depth and in-place training.
• Palau representatives found funds to bring one fo the trainers (Jim Hollyer) to Palau for two weeks to provide training.

Future Recommendations

Future Recommendations: Many of our professional development training opportunities focus on the ‘how-to’ aspects of agriculture; how to grow certain crops; how to create compost; how to….. Few focus on the ‘why’ of agriculture. This PDP training session directed attendees to consider why they do particular practices in agriculture and what benefit they can gain. Many of the participants have asked that there be future training along the lines of economic reasoning and decision making. The senior government attendees, especially those who also attended the WSARE Guam conference were particularly impressed by the potentials of export IF we can develop the infrastructure to serve this opportunity. Further guidance in business management and legal aspects of contracts might be considered. Research needs were also discussed and in some cases identified with potential approaches of collaboration with mainland universities suggested.
Probably the greatest benefit and understanding realized from this project for future use was the support for having such training in place. In other words, having the trainers go to the state sites. This allowed many more local persons to attend and not have to hope that an agent who traveled to a training session would share afterwards. Whenever possible this should be the procedure.
Concerning the WSARE Regional Infrastructure Conference, there should be a scheduled event of this sort every five years or so as a collaborative effort by other agencies within USDA. The opportunity to share the unique situations of these remote insular areas territories and for senior administrators to appreciate the regional concerns warrants such exposure. Although small in size, the region is huge in its impact on US protection and responsibility.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.