Supporting youth in the Pacific


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Miriama Kunawave Brown, Secretariat of Pacific Communities

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  • PAFPNet Firstly I would like to introduce PAFPNet – the network which I am representing under the Secretariat of the Pacific Community Land Resources Division (SPC LRD). The Pacific Agriculture & Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet) is a network of members from different organisation and is owned by all members under the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) which provides the secretariat. PAFPNet is supported by CTA – the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation and aims to facilitate communication, information dissemination, capacity building and enhance awareness of issues related to agriculture and forestry policy. PAFPNet promotes open and constructive dialogue among its stakeholders and encourages information exchange and activity coordination at local, national, regional and international levels. For more information about PAFPNet please visit the following link:
  • Although agriculture is not the most popular career choice for many young people, making them aware about the role farming plays in our society at a young age is nonetheless a healthy start. Lets not forget that in this life, everyone will need to eat. Which means that whatever profession our young people choose to take up, agriculture cannot be completely left out of the equation…
  • Something to do if you don’t find anything else… A commonly heard opinion in the Pacific is that…..”From a young age…” These days, most Youths choose medical studies, accounting, law, engineering and other fields over agriculture, which is easy enough to understand.   When we think of agriculture, it is considered by society to be of low-status. It is certainly not fashionable among young people to say you’re studying to be a farmer when all your friends are talking about their law degrees. Moreover, most students who study agriculture are in this field either because they had no other choice or they did not obtain results, which were required to study the subject that they wanted. Perpetuated over the years, this attitude has led to a decline in the number of young people who are taking up farming as a serious commercial venture. And that must be a real concern. And there’s the issue of: “Aging #..... Let’s be clear about one thing. When we’re talking about the aging farming population, we’re not talking about workers. Looking around today, we’ve got plenty of able-bodied young men and women who could do the work. What’s lacking are qualified farmers who undergo formal training and come out of it with the kind of strategic thinking that we need to take farming in this country into another level. There are very few people like this in the world/Pacific... 
  • The Strategy was created in the sense of bringing interest on Agriculture to the Youths of the Pacific for Employment reasons and in the process we can also help to Improve Food Security and Livelihood Opportunities in our rural communities and to Reduce pressure on urban areas. Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy Encouraging youths into agricultural activity has been a challenge worldwide and we the Pacific Islands are no exception. The development of the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy was an initiative of the PAFPNet in collaboration with the Human Development Programme of SPC as a direct response to the call by Ministers of Agriculture in 2008 to explore ways in which more young people could be supported to take up careers in agriculture. CTA funded the development of the Strategy through PAFPNet. The Pacific Youth in Agriculture strategy was developed in the first place to bring in interest on Agriculture to the Youths of the Pacific. With high levels of youth unemployment, increasing pressure on urban areas and high food import bills, the focus should be more on the encouragement of our young people to realize the full potential of a career in agriculture. In the process we can also help to improve food security and livelihood opportunities in our rural communities and to reduce pressure on urban areas. The strategy was developed with a view to providing recommendations that governments in partnership with non-government organisations, the private sector and other development partners could take forward. The aim is to recommend actions and initiatives that all stakeholders can pursue to encourage the active engagement of youth in agriculture across the region.
  • In the build-up of the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy, we went through the following.... CASE STUDIES 1. Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations (MORDI) Programme under the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International MORDI deals more with Youths in the rural areas in the Pacific region and the programme allows the voice of Pacific youth to be heard listened to and acted upon – with youth being the main drivers of the process. The programme follows participatory approaches, helping young people have a prominent role in different projects and interventions which were designed and carried out by young people themselves. In a typical Fijian village and would also be for most Pacific Island countries, the main challenge for youths is the ‘hierarchical village structure’ where very little importance is given to the opinions of youths!! And Access to Land: When young people are in their physical and mental prime they struggle to access the land needed to successfully develop an agricultural business because their community Elders hang on to the land titles. By the time the land titles are passed to their children, they are in their 40s and 50s and the chance has gone. Livai Tora, farmer, Fiji With much hard work from the MORDI team the results have been clearer in Communities esp. in Vanua Levu in Fiji where this situation changed somewhat after a series of Participatory Learning and Planning consultations, which helped create safe spaces for youth to express their feelings about and ideas for the future. The approach involved arranging separate consultations with groups of men, women and youth. The village leaders and elders were impressed with the proposals of the youth that they were incorporated into larger village development plans. Village youth have used the many project management skills that they learned from the MORDI programme, including proposal writing, to successfully design, implement and monitor a range of projects co-financed by MORDI and by funds raised through youth group activities. Mainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations (MORDI) Programme Under the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International
  • The Marist Training Centre in Tutu, Taveuni, Fiji. Tutu is run by the Society of Mary and is in partnership with the Fiji Government and the people of Cakaudrove in Fiji. The programmes in Tutu are designed in such a way to attract young men and women to be independent and to be innovative at the same time. After opening its doors for the first young farmers training who all graduated in 2007, the program actually grew from strength to strength. The agenda or the syllabus comes from the people in their home situation. The test of the process is what they can do back at home and not there at the Centre. In order to be a student in Tutu College: A student must have 1000 taro or kava planted in the ground (as in at their home farms). They must have access to a land and a letter signed by their parents (guardians) and community elders stating that the land set aside is for the use of the student. The college assists them to set up a bank account and proceeds of the sales of agricultural produce go directly to this account to be managed and accessed by the student themselves. The young farmers spend five weeks at Tutu, and then five weeks on their home farm and this programme goes on for four years. So really they are at the centre for 2 years and at home for 2 years. It is necessary for the Fathers or the teachers of the school to visit them regularly on their term at their home and to mould the programme in Tutu to take effect in their home situation. The Young Farmers course” is not only rooted in the realities of agriculture but is at heart a course about people.
  • 3. The Island Food Community in Pohnpei has worked with schools in developing a song about the ‘Banana Varieties’. 4. An initiative by the ‘Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprise and Development” (FRIEND) with the theme “To sow the seeds of improved food security in low-income areas” where they provided seeds to the youths and communities. The programme has been working well in the western side of Fiji with the feedback from a youth Ms. Daveta among others that she now has a steady increase in savings and earnings since she started her backyard garden. "All the money we used to spend buying vegetables in the market is now being saved because we grow our own at home. And our vegetable sales since we started have also increased over the past few weeks." FRIEND continues with the field visit to the areas to encourage and assist the community members. 5. Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) Future Farmers of Tonga (FOFT) Closely work with National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASSA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fishery (MAFFF) and is registered with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) which has led the TNYC in becoming a member of the Regional Organic task Force in the Pacific. The goal of this program is to produce healthy food (organic farming) in a way that not only sustains the environment but also can be effective in providing employment and income generating activities for people of all gender, age and denomination. FOFT also secures food security and the livelihood for young people by protecting the Environment the one thing that provides for all of humanity. This program is not limited to youths; FOFT has reached out through awareness programs and trainings to embrace anyone that has a keen interest in Organic Farming.
  • Other Initiatives taken on the build up to the Pacific Youth in Agriculture..... The Pacific Youth in Agriculture Facebook forum are created to illustrate new/ social media being used to promote agriculture for Pacific youth. Many of the members are youths from the various Pacific nations and continue to interact and post articles and news releases relevant to agriculture on the open page. Young people are happier to share information on a Facebook page than a formal network because we believe that the social networks are more interactive and is appealing. Apart from its interesting structures and captivating designs it has a broader spectrum of information awareness where there is a broad range of information flow and the wide range of interest are always captured at the same time. The social networks consist of youths with wide range of interest including same interest and they can freely share information without being aware of restrictions as formal networks have. We also held a Pacific youth in Agriculture Essay competition with a short period given (2 weeks) to deadline and were quite a success in the sense that we received more than 20 applicants during that short period.
  • YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE INNITIATIVE IN SPC The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has been steadfast in encouraging youths into agricultural activity, inspired and guided by the Pacific Youth in Agriculture Strategy . According to statistics provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the global demand for food will increase by 70% over the next 40 years or so, worldwide, and we really need youths to get involved in this sector to help meet the demand. There have been ongoing initiatives to support youth in agricultural enterprises and showcasing their success. As part of the Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) youth activities in 2010 are the awards for agriculture that went to young farmers and these are great examples of how we can recognise the achievements of young farmers and showcase their success in encouraging other young people to see agriculture as a viable career option. One way to arouse an interest in agriculture among youths is to engage and support them in these activities from an early age. The Secretariat of the Pacific Communities Land Resources Division (SPC LRD) has been putting a lot of effort into this recently and starting this at primary school will help to create awareness in our youths. During the Fiji Agriculture show this year more than 8000 students from 153 schools visited the SPC booth during the four day show, and SPC held a lottery in giving away forks, hoes, spades, knives and garden rakes (farming equipments) worth a little over FJD$300. The winning school Head Teacher commented that the tools will surely assist them in improving their school garden, which will encourage their students to eat healthy food and know the value of growing their own food. And the same initiative is done by the Fiji government early this year where they are promoting taro farming in primary schools in the Central division in Fiji where they also presented a set of farming tools to the schools and we were told that this has brought in a lot of excitement to the students. A statement that was given by a Village Headman in Cakaudrove, Fiji was “The successful development of any community depends on how we look after our young people. Young people are the assets of any community, we must nurture them, listen to their needs, respect them, love them and they will make us their elders, very proud.” Vikash (MORDI) advised that one way of motivating students would be for the money from crop sales to be used for class activities where students could see the benefits. The money could also be used for paying school fees for poor students. All this will paint a positive picture of agriculture and its benefits.”
  • When working with young people there is a need to work with images that young people can identify with – we think Facebook, animations, twitter and the language use is also important when working/ addressing young people. So there is a common line and young people respond better when using the same ‘young persons language’. There is also a need to look wider for famous people who farm e.g. a singer “Jason Mraz” – who owns and runs his own farm – a need to make it “cool” so to speak…
  • A way forward… Area of focus Support youths at an individual level: - There are a lot of emphasis at community and group level. This is good for most youths but there are youths who can make huge difference working individually on their own. This group of youths need to be supported because they are scale creators – they can grow very fast i.e. Find someone who is loved in the village – to advocate … Agriculture needs to be ingrained in us from a young age as our way of life and of its importance culturally both as in festivities and in everyday living and as part of our identity as Pacific Islanders. Eg. Samoa Coconut tree planting day – school throughout There have been farm to school programmes that work with gardening in primary schools and these gardens are used to teach science, history and health lessons and not just in isolation as growing food to eat-there is a need to realise agriculture holistically-a famous US farming activist said ‘eating is an agricultural act’, and I think this can form a platform to build on-we need to recognise where our food is coming from and how it is grown and the ripple effect that food has on our lives and culture. - Have youth categories at agricultural show days, and these categories need to start at a very young age and move up to young adults, the prizes also need to reflect the amount of time that has been spent in raising crops. - The importance of Agriculture and how it is associated with our everyday lives needs to be reiterated-agriculture is not just about putting food on our plates-it is about our health, our education, our culture. 4. There needs to be a bridging of the gap between younger and older farmers-in some cases agriculture is the only source of income for older farmers and as a result older farmers can feel threatened when younger farmers generate income from farming 5. The growing of food also needs to be recognised as a method of addressing environmental concerns such as climate change, we need to teach our young people that the power is in our own hands that we have the power to induce change-this is especially important when a lot of food imported from overseas contains genetically modified ingredients and growing methods used contribute to land degradation. - We need to see small scale farming as just an important contribution to society as large scale farming-for each person producing food even it is a small amount is contributing to conservation-it is one less crop that we are importing which means there has been less fuel need to fly it into our homes. When we grow our own food we are taking responsibility for our ourselves.
  • Supporting youth in the Pacific

    1. 1. PACIFIC YOUTHS IN AGRICULTURESecretariat of the Pacific CommunityInitiatives
    2. 2. PAFPNet The Pacific Agriculture and Forestry Policy Network (PAFPNet) is a network of members from different organization and is owned by all the members. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community acts as the secretariat. Supported by CTA. The aim of the network is to facilitate communication, information dissemination, capacity building and enhance awareness of issues related to agriculture and forestry policy. Promotes open and constructive dialogue and encourages information exchange and activity coordination.
    3. 3. INTRODUCTIONAgriculture is not an occupation that comes with a desk, PC, and a comfortable fallback chair. No, Agriculture is so much better than this, it comes with a connection, to our ancestors, to the earth, and most importantly, and too often overlooked, to the very core of human survival – EATING.Alana Tukuniu – Niue
    4. 4. THE TRUTHNot all children would want to become farmers in the future.
    5. 5. ISSUES• It is already known that farming is often regarded as a fall-back option• “From a young age we have been programmed to think that a job in town or a job in an office is the ultimate aim”.• Aging number of farming population
    6. 6. CHALLENGES1. Youth Unemployment2. Rural – Urban Migration3. ‘Hierarchical village structure’- where very little importance is given to the opinions of youth!!- Access to Land4. Capital Investment5. Skills6. Decision making, taking risks, innovative7. Support from people in power
    8. 8. CASE STUDIESMainstreaming of Rural Development Innovations (MORDI) Programme under the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International- Follows participatory approaches .- Hierarchical village structure- With much hard work from the MORDI team the results have been clearer in Communities esp. in Vanua Levu in Fiji.
    9. 9. The Marist Training Centre in Tutu, Taveuni, Fiji Designed in a way to attract young men and women to be independent and to be innovative at the same time.- The agenda or the syllabus comes from the people in their home situation.- Entrance requirement for Tutu college
    10. 10. 3. Island Food Community in Pohnpei – schools developed a song about the ‘Banana Varieties’4. FRIEND - ‘Foundation of Rural Integrated Enterprise and Development initiative “To sow seeds of improved food security in low income areas”5. Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC) – Future Organic Famers of Tonga
    11. 11. Other Initiatives
    12. 12. YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE INNITIATIVE IN SPC• Pacific Youth in Agriculture – Discussion on Projects set up to concentrate primarily on Agriculture• Agriculture Show – Young Farmers Awards, Equipment for Schools• ICT Components – Web 2 tool training and Yobloco competition (ARDYIS)
    13. 13. What’s being done to encourageyoung people to take up farming as a career?
    14. 14. WAY FORWARD• Support youths at an individual level• Youth Champions• Integrate Agriculture to School programmes• Bridging of gap btwn younger and older farmers• Shareholders• Addressing Environmental concerns• Project – set up to primarily concentrate on Youth in Agriculture
    15. 15. CONCLUSION“Do not think of farming only as a money earner. Agriculture is much more than this, and it’s this understanding that will help young farmers through the tough times. We now live in a cash economy, and we need income, but as a farmer we are contributing so much more. Agriculture is instrumental in keeping our culture alive, in addressing climate change issues, health issues and in preserving the environment.”Alana Tukuniu – Niue
    16. 16. Thank you and Many thanks to CTA for this opportunity. Vinaka Vakalevu.