The project will enhance the capacity of research and development (R&D) institutions in PNG, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to carry out efficient and effective agricultural research. Appropriate human resource capacity is the key to generating and transferring agricultural technologies and innovations. As a result, the project aims to improve the capability of agricultural researchers, research managers and extension workers to identify and prioritise R&D issues, formulate research projects, and out- and up-scale technologies for successful agricultural development.
Agricultural production and productivity can be increased substantially if innovative technologies are developed and promoted. Such technological advances are only possible if sufficient and appropriately qualified human resources are devoted to conducting focused scientific research and promoting agricultural innovations. Scientific research that leads to the development, dissemination and adoption of improved agricultural technologies will improve livelihoods and reduce poverty of the poor and women in the countries dependent on agriculture through:
- Increased productivity.
- Increased gainful employment.
- Growth in non-farm activities.
- Affordable food prices.
- Reduced vulnerability to climatic and other risks.
- Economic and social empowerment.
However, in the Western Pacific countries agricultural research is neither being conducted efficiently nor being adequately focused. Research results are not disseminated effectively by various research institutions, meaning that improved technologies are not adopted, preventing agricultural growth and development. The shortcomings of agricultural research have been attributed largely to the weak capacity of researchers and research managers in agricultural R&D institutions to design and develop high priority and high impact-oriented research projects. There is therefore an urgent need to improve the human resource capacities within these institutions.
The project is specifically designed to address the needs, constraints and aspirations of the partner and associate institutions to develop capacities of researchers, research managers and extension workers in the identification and prioritisation of agricultural R&D issues, formulation of research projects and out- and up-scaling of agricultural innovations (Scaling-out is the replication of innovation to other similar sites at local level; Scaling-up refers to expansion of innovation from local to national levels and leads to more quality benefits of more end-users over a wider geographical area: it implies adapting the innovation to the conditions of different end-users). The partner institutions have been mandated by their respective national governments to find solutions to the agricultural problems of the farming communities.
Capacity building will take place through a review of various training methods and the subsequent development of training programmes, which will be accompanied by guidelines and manuals for trainers and trainees. Training components will include:
- Identification of R&D issues and priority setting.
- Assessment of constraints, opportunities and potentials in crops and livestock.
- Development of agricultural R&D projects.
- Capacity development in out-scaling and up-scaling of promising agricultural innovations.
The figure depicts these four training components and the way they are linked in the project.
An innovative feature of this project is the participation of trainers through skills development programmes: mentoring and training of trainers from the partner institutions is a central element of the project. Those who have completed training will then be able to train other researchers in their respective institutions in the Western Pacific countries. This process will build up institutional R&D capacity, reducing the need for external help.
Networking and communication among the participating institutions shall be encouraged via a web-based communication forum, which will also facilitate communication with other regional and international networks promoting human resource capacity in agricultural R&D activities.
The Project Co-ordination Unit (CU) will facilitate the implementation of the project activities, under the guidance of a Steering Committee consisting of representatives of NARI, MAL and VARTC. The CU will oversee day-to-day implementation and will ensure inter-institutional coordination and appropriate technical guidance of project team members. The CU will also be responsible for central-level procurements, consultant recruitment, funds disbursement, facilitation of travel, and organisation of workshops and training programmes.