|Title||The role of farm management in agricultural extension in the Pacific Islands|
The management constraint: Most households in the region¾
particularly in Melanesia¾are involved in semi-subsistence agriculture.
These farmers largely lack the entrepreneurial and management experience
to move into modern commercial farming, and these weaknesses have not
been adequately offset by the extension services. The lack of management
skills extends to the plantation sector, where traditionally no attention was
given to training and workers were not expected to know anything beyond
how to wield a bush knife and harvest crops.
There also were no training institutions that taught skills for modern
plantation management. Therefore management agencies in PNG were
pivotal in the transfer of ownership of coffee and cocoa plantations from
foreigners to nationals. In Fiji and Vanuatu, low-key versions of these
agencies helped provide landowners with necessary technical and
management skills to run plantations.
Farm management in extension: Farm management and business
advisory services in the Pacific island countries are limited and probably less
than what was available several decades ago. Government extension workers
are little involved in farm management training and farm management
specialists in Agriculture Departments have little direct contact with
farmers. In several countries, NGOs have recently helped to provide this
training, sometimes successfully but other times hampered by financial and
other constraints. Some of these schemes could be reactivated.
Farm management training materials: A lot of effort has gone into
developing this material, with FAO taking a lead role. Fiji, Tonga and Samoa
produced farm management manuals that provided gross margin budgets
for various crop and livestock activities. If regularly updated, these manuals
can be useful planning tools. Yet they have not been particularly useful in
evaluating the returns from traditional small holder production because of
the model used, which:
|»||Fiji - Agricultural Census 1991|
|»||Fiji - Population Census 1996|