By Inosi Vulawalu, Knowledge Management, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Fiji AgriculturePartnership Project (FAPP)
The Fiji Agricultural Partnerships Project (FAPP) is the first IFAD in-country loan investment in the country and became effective in December 2015. It has a Project Management Unit (PMU) located within the Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters in Suva. The Project is co-funded by the Government of Fiji (GoF) and IFAD and has a four-year timeframe. It will be implemented in one district of Naitasiri province, 2 districts of Ba province and 4 districts of Nadroga/Navosa province. The overall goal of FAPP is reducing hardship in remote rural communities of Fiji. To achieve this goal, the Project endeavours to engage small-scale producers in sustainable farming and establishing business partnerships in remote areas, particularly in the highlands. Over the past months, the PMU participated in a number of trainings and learning events that were instrumental in having the team strengthen their skills and experiences, familiarize with IFAD processes and operating modalities, and put in place project implementation arrangements.
Training in value chain analysis and knowledge management
Most recently, FAPP’s PMU staff participated in the Value Chain Analysis capacity building training organized by the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Pacific Islands Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON). The workshop was held from 26 to 28 April 2017 and participants included IFAD Sub-regional Coordinator for the Pacific, Sakiusa Tubuna, staff of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Tim Martyn from FAO. It was also attended by nine Research and Extension staff of Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture. The training covered topics such as introducing the basic concepts of value chain, key lessons from Pacific value chain studies, and undertaking a value chain analysis for fresh and processed ginger and taro. Field visits were also part of the program. Participants visited some value chain actors who are the leading agricultural exporters in Fiji to-date, such as Ben’s Trading Limited, Kaiming Agro Processing Ltd both situated in Navua and Ranadi’s Plantation. Ben’s Trading Ltd primarily exports root-crops such as taro and cassava, to markets in Australia, NZ and USA. Kaiming Agro Processing Limited exports crystallized and glazed ginger to USA, Australia, NZ, UK and Germany. Ranadi Plantation situated along the Queens Highway in Deuba is about 45 minutes drive away from Suva. They are one of the largest organic ginger producers in Fiji and also exports fruits, legumes and spices Last year I also had the opportunity to attend a regional workshop on “Developing Knowledge Management Capacity for Improved Agriculture, Information, Research and Policy Banks in the Pacific“. The training was organized by the Pacific Agriculture Policy Project (PAPP) co-funded by the EU, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and took place in Fiji from 31 May to 3 June 2016. The purpose of the workshop was to assist us improve our knowledge sharing environment to disseminate agricultural information and knowledge within our country and amongst other countries. Topics covered were on Knowledge Management (KM) products, tools and understanding the KM tree provided by CTA. Another workshop I also attended was on “Development of E-agriculture Strategy for Fiji”. It was organized by the International Telecommunication Unit (specialized agency of the United Nations that is responsible for issues that concern information and communication technologies) and FAO. It took place in Suva and its purpose was to help identify and address challenges in a broad manner and help Fiji leverage the best outcomes from emerging and innovative technologies. FAPP also conducted its first ever stakeholder workshop in April 2016. The Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Jitendra Singh officiated the opening and acknowledged the participation of international agencies like IFAD to partner and develop the livelihoods of people residing in rural and vulnerable communities. The workshop, held at the Holiday Inn in Suva, was attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and few farmers from the PHVA project in Nadarivatu. The team also joined IFAD Indigenous people consultation session held in Deuba on 23 November 2016. Monica Romano, IFAD Project Implementation Specialist, conducted a presentation on the action plan for strengthening KM communication in managing the IFAD Pacific portfolio in the Pacific.
Awareness raising about FAPP
The PMU has conducted some awareness sessions to the Ministry of Agriculture’s extension officers that will be cooperating with FAPP in the project’s target areas. For example, in October 2016, we paid a visit to the extension officers responsible for target areas in Nadroga/Navosa province and their Principal Agriculture Officer Western. The meeting was held at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Sigatoka Research Station in Nacocolevu, approximately 10km from Sigatoka town. The team also visited three exporters in Bilalevu, which falls in the Waicoba district of Nadroga Province. These exporters procure eggplants, Okra, Moringa (Saijan) leaves mostly from farmers in the upper valley of Sigatoka and exports to New Zealand market and supplies also to local markets. Earlier in July 2016, the project team had visited the highlands of Viti Levu and briefed the extension staff as well. The extension officers will be working in cooperation and coordination with project in-field staff, providing support in technology transfer to the communities. That’s why we felt it was important that we established linkages with them early on and we explained the project's focus and implementation structure in the field. The team had also the opportunity to visit some of the Ministry of Agriculture’s projects in Navai and Nadala villages. Navai village falls within Nabobuco district of Naitasiri but is located very closely to Nadala village in the district of Savatu, Ba province and Nadrau in the province of Nadroga/Navosa province. We visited a potato and other assorted vegetable farmer and also witnessed a small mushroom plot managed by a woman. Demand for mushroom in Fiji according to the Ministry of Agriculture Extension officers in Nadarivatu, is huge. The Ministry of Agriculture through promotion and training of local farmers will enable them to sell mushroom in local markets and generate income. In addition to these training and visits, the PMU also visited Kaiming Agro Processing Ltd, Ben’s Trading Limited and Joes Farm on 3 March 2017. This enabled us to better understand the operation processes and also to brief them on FAPP’s component on SMEs. Joes Farm exports vegetables to PICs such as Kiribati, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. They also export Dalo, Cassava, Jackfruits, Breadfruits, Yams to Australia and USA. Given the vital role the Research Division will also play in the project, the PMU also made a courtesy visit to the Koronivia Research Station (KRS) to brief the Principal Research Officers on FAPP and most importantly the project’s linkages to the Research Division. Principal Research Officer - Agronomy guided the PMU team to the Naduruloulou Research Station where various propagation methods of fruit trees are conducted. Nursery management is also a vital component of the station’s operation. FAPP team made another visit in April this year to the Extension officers following its meeting with the Assistant Minister for Agriculture to provide an update on FAPP. The meeting also included other government stakeholders from the Ministry of Provincial Development and the Ministry of I’taukei Affairs. FAPP team led by the Project Manager Kaliova Nadumu briefed the new Assistant Minister for Agriculture Hon Viam Pillay regarding the project and its core purposes. Hon. Viam Pillay acknowledged the team for the brief. He requested the team to keep extension officers updated on the progress of FAPP.
IFAD Implementation Support Missions
In November 2016, a team of international experts from IFAD led by the IFAD Sub Regional Coordinator visited us to undertake an Implementation Support Mission. The team consisted of Ronald Hartman, IFAD Country Director managing the Pacific portfolio; Monica Romano; Ed Angeles (IFAD Finance Specialist); and Finance Trainee, Viliame Mavoa. The team reviewed the project’s progress and worked with PMU to advance implementation, identify bottlenecks, and revise the Annual Work Plan and Budget (AWP&B) and Procurement Plan, and define KM activities. They also met various stakeholders to discuss project related issues. Ron Hartman had the opportunity to meet the Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Joeli Cawaki, and acknowledged the Ministry of Agriculture’s support towards the project. Earlier in 2016, IFAD provided implementation support in the areas of project management, with the support of Monica Romano, and financial management and procurement, with the help of Ed Angeles, who revised the Project Implementation Manual (PIM). During a Mission in April 2016, Monica also helped the PMU to prepare KM and M&E action plans, liaising with the M&E office of the Ministry of Agriculture, and drafting the overall project M&E framework, including formats to be used in the field. This work has been further advanced through the assistance of the IFAD M&E Consultant, Fabrizio Vivarini, who was with the team for almost two weeks in December 2016 looking into the RIMS framework, logframe and reporting templates to be used both by PMU and the Lead Implementing Partner (LIP). Therefore, the KM and M&E system is now fully in place. The financial management and procurement aspect of the project is also now fully established. The PMU welcomed the project’s Financial Management & Procurement Assistant, Atelena Nauku, at the beginning of 2017. We benefitted a lot from her vast experience and in-depth knowledge of the GoF’s financial management and procurement guidelines. Required office equipment for the PMU and the newly established Agribusiness Development Unit (ADU) is procured with necessary register maintained. The Finance Management and Procurement Officer liaised with the Ministry of Economy and facilitated a refresher on-the-job training on operating the financial management systems. Officers from the Ministry of Economy had conducted two of this type of trainings to the project’s FMPO and his assistant.
Learning from and experience sharing with other IFAD funded projects
Early on after its effectiveness, FAPP benefitted from the support from neighbouring IFAD funded projects in the Pacific.. Soane Patolo, Manager of the MORDI Tonga Trust, a NGO implementing the IFAD-supported Tonga Rural Innovation Project (TRIP), was sent to share some valuable experience of project implementation and experiences. The PMU also liaised with the Project Coordinating Unit (PCU) of Kiribati’s Outer Island Food and Water Project (OIFWP) when preparing for the RIMS Baseline Survey for FAPP.
Looking forward to project implementation in the field
Project preparation and implementation arrangements are near to completion by now. We are now working on the RIMS baseline survey that will be the basis for our continued project monitoring. We look forward to implementation of in-field activities and to sharing our experience of linking small producers and farmers with markets in Fiji.
Source: IFAD social reporting blog