2018 College of Micronesia PDP Project

Final report for WSP17-009

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: College of Micronesia
Region: Western
State: Federated States of Micronesia
State Coordinator:
Jackson Phillip
College of Micronesia
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Project Information

Abstract:

 Micronesia is divided politically into three (3) sovereign island nations comprising of six (6) island groups with eight (8) distinct languages; two of the 8 languages are of Polynesian origin. The three (3) island nations are the Republic of Palau (ROP), the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). All of these island nations have their own political affiliation with the United States. For that purpose, they are referred to as the Freely Associate States (FSA) with the United States of America.  Micronesia islands are spread out from the Western Caroline to Eastern Caroline in the Pacific Ocean and occupied an area larger than the Mainland USA. Travel within the islands is very expensive, due in part to geographical locations, and because only one airline serves the region – Continental since 1970 and now United.
Communication is also a limiting factor. For effective communication and training, English is the official language. While training materials are often readily available and/or are developed in English the training level of most agriculture extension agents are high school or 2-year college. A significant segment of populations in the islands cannot read and understand English or their own language for that purpose. Consequently achieving planned agriculture education and professional learning and action goals is always a challenge. Last, but not the least, is the issue of funding level.  The Micronesia islands geographically covered an area larger than the United States mainland and are served by one airline and therefore travel cost is between islands is quite expensive.  The issue was brought up by Palau who is located further to the west at the SARE sub-regional meeting in Guam in 2017.  The SARE Admintrave Council adopted the issue of not enough SARE funding for Micronesia, but it was subsequently trashed by lawyers in Washington D.C.  The level SARE PDP funding for Micronesia and Guam is at the same level, however, what it took Bob Barber to accomplish in a day with about $30 for fuel on Guam would take Jackson Philip a couple of weeks with $3000 in Micronesia.

Project Objectives:

The main objective of the project is for participants to learn science-based knowledge and skills to improve local production and utilization.  In addition to technical aspects of local production, participants increase their awareness of the importance to grow certain vegetables for health benefits and for alternate income opportunities. From the garden demonstration, participants learned traditional knowledge and skills on how to grow and use specific food crops such as yam and taro, and vegetables. From attending the conference participants were exposed to knowledge and concepts and establish linkage with other professionals.  One outcome of attending the conference participant’s learned the concepts from panel discussion, field trips, and the poster session. All participants reported the use of the cover crop for soil fertility, soil moisture, and weed-suppressing was top on their list of knowledge gained.  One participant, he started to use the cover crop on the coral islands in the Marshall Islands.  Another adopted the sheet mulching on a demo garden outside the offie.

Introduction:

The educational background for most of the agriculture extension agents is 2-year Associate of Arts and high school.
Given the education level for most agriculture extension agents in Micronesia – high school and 2-year Associate of Arts, and the capacity on the ground, and the very existence of food security and nutrition health-related (NCD) issues the need it is critical now than ever to upgrade the agents to empower farmers/producers to engage in sustainable agriculture production and utilization.  Training in Micronesia has adopted the approach to include farmers (producers) and NGOs in its professional capacity development. The project would expand on previous training topic of Production and Utilization and would
consist of the following activities:
(1) Conduct one-day follow-up training
(2) Conduct 1-2 days training to new target audiences
(3) Assemble training materials from previous training
(4) Develop evaluation survey, e.g. Survey Monkey for previous participants and for current training participants
(5) Conduct survey – to be accomplished by State SARE Coordinator with the assistance
of SARE Liaisons/Co-coordinator recruited and trained under SARE Enhancement Grant
(with UOG).
c) Stakeholder and partner involvement –
Inputs from stakeholders are solicited through working with partner agencies – Department of
Resources and Development, Division of Agriculture, NRCS, NGOs such as farmers association,
Education, Health Services, and the Cooperative Researches and Extension (CRE) of the three (3) colleges in Micronesia – Palau Community College, College of Micronesia-FSM, and College of the Marshall Islands. To some extend inputs are solicited through working relationship with the Guam State SARE Coordinator, through which a UOG/COM enhancement grant was awarded recently. For the purpose of soliciting inputs for this grant, ongoing interactions continued between the State SARE Coordinator and the three colleges.
d) Inputs – State Implementation funds are primary funding source for this project. As practiced in previous project 10% salary and 10% benefit for the state SARE coordinator are budgeted. A part-time support staff, preferably an agriculture major student would be hired to assist the state SARE coordinator. This project provides funds to hire a locally based consultant or trainer to help conduct training. The consultant should not be anyone currently being employed by the Cooperative Research and Extension (CRE). It is anticipated each of the six (6) sites to conduct its own training utilizing, in addition to the consultant being hired, their own expertise at no cost to the project. For the evaluation component of this project SARE Liaisons at each of the sites would be tasked to assist. To the extend possible the state SARE coordinator would travel to at least 2 sites (counties) to assist in the training effort and to lead the evaluation effort. Each of the 6 sites shall be in charge and responsible for resources and contributions to support this project. The support includes training facility, transportation, and demonstration site. A $300 registration fee per site is budgeted for, funds collected may be used for snack and lunch for participants. This approach is necessary to keep participants at the training site to make effective use of time and to ensure continuity and participation.
Sites will be provided with registration funds, the same day or no later than one day after training started the amount $300 to cover registration fee. Consultation fee will b provided when training is completed and a signed request stating complete satisfaction is submitted to state SARE Coordinator, copy furnished COM Business Office. This request shall be accompanied by a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed by consultant and person in charge of the training or his/her supervisor. Reimburse for training supplies and other costs will be made only when a training report is submitted to the State SARE Coordinator to include electronic copy of the following:
(1) List of participants,
(2) Objectives of training
(3) Electronic copy of training material or manual
(4) Pre and posttest results (to be prepared by training consultant, et all)
(5) Evaluation (to be prepared by state SARE Coordinator)
e) Outputs
1) Target audience – List the numbers and types of people who will be participating in each activity associated with your project.
2) Activities and methods – Include both formal training sessions (workshops, meetings, field days) and informal approaches (networks, facilitation, coaching sessions).
3) Products – What will your project produce? This may include educational materials, curricula
and/or new partnerships to conduct further educational efforts.

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Adelino Lorens (Educator)
  • Dr. Nacanieli "Dr. Nat" Tuivavalagi (Educator and Researcher)
  • Nelbert Perez (Educator)
  • Bryan Wichep (Educator)
  • Dr. Virendra M. Verma, (Educator and Researcher)
  • Steven Young-Uhk (Educator)
  • Laninbwij "Luke" Langmos (Educator)
  • Stanley Lorennis (Educator)
  • Thomas Taro (Educator)
  • Dr. Manoj R. Nair (Researcher)
  • Dr. Lolita Ragus (Educator and Researcher)

Education

Educational approach:

Since 1996 the Micronesia islands continued to benefit from the SARE state implementation grant providing training to agriculture extension and farmers. Extension staff and researchers conducted training activities in selected islands and attended workshops and conferences and benefited with new information and technologies, established linkages with professionals, researchers, and educators, and acquired training materials developed by SARE. and other professionals. Training usually is conducted in 3 of the 6 islands (counties) and is participated by representatives (extension agents for all 6 counties.  The training increased knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture production concepts and practices. Face-to-face contacts during this training improved communication between agents and clients and the working relationships among agencies and NGOs with the similar and relevant mandate in the areas of sustainable agriculture and economic development, food security, and family health well being.  Plan for training materials and presented demonstrations and other outreach activities developed and used for training.

Four individuals attended the Our Farms, Our Future Conference sponsored by SARE/ATTRA held in St. Louis, Missouri, April 2018. The 4 individuals were the SARE Coordinator, two SARE Liaisons, from Pohnpei, FSM, and from Majuro, Marshall Islands, and a soil agronomist from Pohnpei. Partial support was given to Dr. Nat, the Soil Scientist to attend the conference.
The takeaway from the conference, all 3 participants reported cover crop and soil building are topics of interest and the most appropriate methods to incorporate into their work. One of the Liaisons reported he has started to do soil building on the coral islands and the second one submitted a P+P grant with composing and sheet mulching being major components. On the research aspect there is a need to have a closer look cover crop for different soils and environments, crops, and types of cover crops. In a nutshell, the cover crop should be the best option for farming and gardening, and especially with the looming threat of climate change and changing weather patterns.

The Researcher, Dr. Nat, who is a Fijian himself and is working with the College of Micronesia-FSM, was able to link an organic ginger company with the Fiji Agriculture Department. So our (Pacific island) farmers may be benefitting from this interaction by securing a market for some of their ginger produce.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Vegetables and food crop production
Objective:

1. Participants to be able to prepare seedlings, transplant, and maintain until harvest.
2. Participants are empowered to produce and use compost to enhance production and reduce dependency on inorganic fertilizers.
3. Participants increase knowledge in soil management

Description:

Hands-on will be used during training and demonstrations in order for participants to have firsthand experience in various production methods and practices.

Outcomes and impacts:

In addition to improved knowledge and skills in growing vegetables and other food crops, e.g. yam and taro,  participants and visitors had the opportunity to see the use of compost and drainage enabling high yield harvest of yam, D. escalate, were planning of 60 plus pounds of yam seeds and harvesting 300 plus pounds which is more than 400% increased.  Normally the increase is around 100%.

Educational & Outreach Activities

2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 On-farm demonstrations
2 Study circle/focus groups
1 Tours
2 Travel Scholarships
1 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

3 Extension
1 Researchers
1 Nonprofit
2 Agency
36 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

30 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
15 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
1 New working collaboration
3 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The project increases the visibility of SARE in all islands evidenced by requests for information and people participating in the submission of grants to SARE.  Unfortunately, none of the grant proposal submitted by SARE Liaisons and advisors was awarded yet.  We will continue to work to submit the grants for a similar project and for fields.

120 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
30 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
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.