The Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) in partnership with the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council hosted a two-day Farmers Forum and Farmer to Farmer Learning Exchange in Deuba, Pacific Harbour from 01 – 02 August, 2017.
The Forum was aimed at bringing about awareness on the importance of advocacy and policy engagement through the sharing of case studies and tools were introduced to help farmer organisations be more effective in engaging with government. The farmer to farmer exchange was aimed at promoting the sharing of technologies and lessons learnt through direct engagement between farmers.
Approximately 50 participants attended the event comprising of:
The event was funded by the World Rural Forum.
Outcomes of the Farmers Forum
Farmer Organisations (FOs) attend Fiji Farmers Forum
The successful hosting of the First Fiji Farmers Forum by a farmer organisation FCLC (Fiji Crop and Livestock Council) in partnership with PIFON (Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network) and the attendance of many FO leaders to converge at the Forum is a milestone achievement.
The Farmers Forum also brought together other program partners and key Ministry officials to participate in the two-day program.
FOs know policies that Government has for Agriculture sector
The FO leaders were educated and exposed to the policies that the Fiji Government and the Ministry of Agriculture has for the Agricultural sector. It broadened the FO leaders minds on how policy is made at the Government level and how as farmers they can be a part of working and contributing to the polices for Agriculture
FOs know the Commodity programs in MOA’s 2017/2018 plan
As part of the Ministry of Agriculture’s presentation, the participants were presented with the Ministry’s 2017/2018 commodities plan that listed the commodities and the budget allocations for the commodities. Many of the participants were not aware of this and this was a good opportunity that the Ministry took advantage off to provide this information to the farmer leaders that attended the Forum
Farmer to Farmer Learning Exchange
The participants were exposed on Day Two to Farmer to Farmer (F2F) Learning Exchange where it involved field trips out to (i) Livestock farmers and; (ii) Crop farmers. Participants were encouraged to pick one of the trips where they were taught at farms by the hosting farmer on farming techniques that was being used. The Learning Exchange allowed for Question and Answer session directly with the farmer from start-up to current operations, issues and problem solving. According to the feedback received, this was the most favoured part of the Farmers Forum, where farmers are taught and learn from other farmers.
The Fiji Farmers Forum allowed the introduction of FOs working in Fiji to introduce themselves and to also hear from other FOs as well, the networking platform that the Farmers Forum presented to the participants allowed time during the stay over at the Coral Coast Christian Camp, during meal times for FO leaders to interact and to get to know each other better and cross cutting issues affecting each other was able to be discussed and brought out for attention in the Farmers Forum Communique.
FOs are briefed on programs working in Fiji
Farmers Forum participants were able to be briefed on which programs or projects were being worked on in Fiji and become informed. Where there were similar interests, the FO leaders were able to network with the program/project leaders and get informed so that they will be able to take back necessary lessons to their members.
FOs understanding Policy Work
The participants were briefed/updated and instructed on what was Policy work as opposed to operational work and the understanding and difference in the two. They were also briefed on how other FOs have undertaken policy work and what where their successors and/or failures, case studies were provided (which are included in this report) to participants so that they could read up on the details of the interventions made. The participants were also briefed on how policies affect and impacted their farming lives.
Lessons learnt on tools to help FOs with policy
A toolkit resource paper was presented to the participants of the Farmers Forum on which tools may be used to effectively carry out Policy work for their FOs. The resource paper included a short narration and a picture of the tool that is easily adaptable to participants, easily understood and can be easily used. The examples were very practical tools that FOs may use to push policy work with Government for their advantage.
Power and Reach of FOs
FO leaders were encouraged that as leaders they were invited to attend and were explained the power and the reach that they held as FOs and FO leaders. As leaders that attended this Farmers Forum, they were challenged to return to their FOs and hold a briefing to report back to their FOs about what they have learnt at the Farmers Forum. Each participant was handed an action report to write down and commit to an action that they would do on their return to their FOs. Many in the feedback shared that they will return and ensure that they would share their experience from these two days with their members and take up the challenge that was given to them, this way they were demonstrating the farmer reach that as an FO and as a leader they had. Things to be reported back to their FO groups included Day One – Farmers Forum and Day Two – Farmer to Farmer Exchange.
Fiji Farmers Forum Communique
The participants attending the Farmers Forum had input into the Farmers Forum Communique that will be distributed as an outcome of the Fiji Farmers Forum, the communique is specially written with the Government of Fiji in mind and to highlight issues that were discussed at the Forum with its possible solutions that the Forum recommends. The Farmers Forum also suggests that the hosting FO, Fiji Crop and Livestock Council be the body to follow up with the communique and use the communique as a guiding document to assist it to solicit its funding from the Fiji Government as the issues contained in the communique are the farmers concerns that were discussed at the Fiji Farmers Forum.