The EU funded Training Support to the Sugarcane Industry Project 2014-2017, under its Support to the Sugar Industry Programme (SSIP) has launched another phase of training targeted at Leader Farmers in an attempt to upskill them with the capacity to share valuable technical knowledge with other farmers in their networks.
The Leader Farmer concept emerged out of a need to pass on technical information (technology transfer) and is a model that is being rolled out by the Fair-Trade Coordination Unit (FCU), in collaboration with the Fiji Sugar Corporation, to assist farmers with upskilling and capacity building needs.
According to Mohammed Habib, EU Coordination Programme Unit Technical Manager, “there is a huge reserve of opportunities to motivate Leader Farmers to support and promote Farmer Advisory Services (FAS) as well as to lead by example. Leader Farmers have been chosen as appropriate leaders within the community to show others what can be achieved however, some basic skills training is required for them to deliver these outcomes”.
The training workshop, implemented by the Australia-Pacific Technical College (APTC) continues over two days with similar workshops being held across Fiji’s sugar belt areas targeting 23 sectors. While 20 leader farmers are participating in the initial training workshop (which started on 3 August), APTC hopes to upskill a further 210 farmers across these sectors.
APTC is a development initiative funded by the Australian Government to deliver training and to increase the supply of skilled workers in targeted sectors in the Pacific region. APTC has campuses in Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
Project Leader Kevin Wyatt said the main focus of the overarching project is to provide a training program for the Fijian sugarcane industry that improves the livelihoods of the sugarcane dependent populations.
“The EU/DFAT (European Union/Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) agreement requires APTC (as the implementing agency) to engage with the sugar industry stakeholders and develop a training program to address skills gaps across the sugar supply chain,” Mr Wyatt said. Key stakeholders in this supply chain include individual farmers.
The first day of the workshop educates the farmers on working smart and outlines necessary communication skills, while the second day focuses on planning, presentation and facilitation skills.
Under the overarching project, APTC is expected to deliver the following:
- Improved skills for workers currently within the Fiji Sugar Industry;
- Delivery of identified gap training of staff working within the sugar mill;
- Delivery of skills training to agricultural extension staff to better support farmers;
- Improved skills development opportunities for people affected by changes in the Fiji Sugar Industry; and
- Delivery of Australian qualification’s, skill sets and as relevant statements of attendance for workshop training events.
In 2014, the EU made an agreement of delegated cooperation with the Australian Government to provide training support through Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), complementing the “Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol (AMSP 2013)” programme which includes the SSIP.