The Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Duddley Kopu has encouraged a shift from the current subsistence agriculture to the semi-commercial mode and later to the commercial and agribusiness mode in rural areas.
Mr Kopu made the suggestion at the opening of the annual Senior Agriculture Extension Staff Conference in Honiara this week.
He said refocusing the agriculture sector towards a commercial mode is important if the Agriculture Extension sector is to remain relevant in this changing global and economic environment.
A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said agriculture extension has over the years been focusing on providing knowledge and skills and appropriate technologies to farming families in a non-formal, participatory manner, with the objective of improving the quality of life of the country’s rural farmers which make up 80 percent of the nation’s total population.
“Sooner or later re-focusing has to be applied if things are not happening as they should be, and the quality of life of the rural farming families has not been impacted fully by the efforts made through hundreds of funding support and advisories so far,” the Minister said.
He said the Government and farmers must develop a vibrant and viable agriculture sector that provides assurance in food security, food safety, quality and nutrition while at the same time bring about rural economic growth, employment and development, as well as ensuring better health for everyone.
The theme of the week-long conference is “Smart Extension Service for Tomorrow’s Agriculture Development Uncertainties.”
Director of the Agriculture Extension Services Mr. Michael Ho’ota said the theme was specifically selected due to the current global trend and environmental as well as socio-economic issues that the extension services continue to face on a daily basis.
He said under such circumstances the extension services has no other option but to be smart in order to deliver much needed technical as well as material support to the most remote and disadvantaged members of our community.
The conference brings together all heads of agriculture extension offices from all the provinces including Honiara city to report on progresses and challenges faced in the implementation of the 2015 work plan and to look at the 2016 work plan and its implementation.
Ideally, the conference is a forum where issues are raised and discussed and possible solutions established in order for the department of Agriculture Extension to effectively deliver agriculture services in the rural areas.