Agriculture focused discussions and using ICT innovations, inspires Pacific journalists.

Monday, May 14th, 2018

10 May, 2018

NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga– The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFFF) of the Kingdom of Tonga; in partnership with the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) hosted a pre-summit workshop during the fifth Pacific Media Summit focused on Agriculture. The theme of the workshop was “ICT Innovations and the Role of Media in Supporting the Agriculture Sector”.

The workshop was facilitated by Ms Salome Tukuafu of the Pacific Community (SPC) who has been a key partner to MAFFF in knowledge management as well as technical support to its seeds facilities and availability of resilient genetic resources, particularly following Tropical Cyclone Gita.

The workshop took place at an opportune time with over 150 members of media and communications professionals from the Pacific region, in Nuku’alofa for the summit. Several countries were represented at the Agriculture focused workshop which included Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Samoa, Palau, Fiji and Tonga. The workshop was also attended by youth and private sector/non government stakeholders as well as the Honourable Moheofo ‘Aleamotu’a who was the guest of honour at its opening.

Participants were led through an exciting two day agenda which included presentations from MAFFF on its use of online platforms and media engagement to further awareness of its work. During the first day, media were also introduced to the experiences of youth advocates for the Agriculture sector, Ms ‘Ana Tupou Panuve and Ms ‘Aulola Ake who shared their use of social media to encourage youth engagement in Tonga’s agriculture sector. They discussed their experiences and learning from the Caribbean region, as well as their contribution to events such as the second Pacific Agribusiness Forum.

In opening the workshop, the Acting CEO MAFFF, Dr Viliami Kami welcomed participants saying, “I am particularly pleased that we are joined by our media and communications partners from outside of the Kingdom, from SPC, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu and abroad. We thank you for taking an interest in Tonga’s Agriculture sector. I am also pleased to see youth and non-government communications representatives who are involved in supporting communication and visibility for Agriculture in Tonga and the region. Your role in creating awareness and visibility of our work is equally important and I thank you all for the time you have taken to be here today.”

During the second day of the pre-summit workshop, participants were introduced in the morning to the experiences of regional media from Samoa and Vanuatu, on previous learning from capacity building opportunities organised by SPC’s European Union supported Intra-ACP Agriculture Policy Programme and PINA in 2016 and 2017 respectively at the national level. These opportunities built capacity of local media to report more effectively on the Agriculture sector. Participants saw the shift in reporting by Samoa media towards more human interest stories that highlighted opportunities in the Agriculture sector; and from Vanuatu, the coordinated efforts of Vanuatu media in supporting high level visibility of the first ever Pacific Week of Agriculture, with SPC as a key partner.

Touching on the work she has carried out to train Pacific media, Ms Tukuafu stated, “while the role of media is significant in ensuring that the public is kept informed of both the opportunities as well as the significant work taking place in the Agriculture sector, Pacific media also has a responsibility to support social issues such as the need to engage more youth in an ageing sector such as Agriculture. The presence of regional media this week has provided a significant opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, as well as to learn from best practices of Tonga; particularly in the aftermath and recovery efforts following Tropical Cyclone Gita”.

The workshop concluded with a field trip organised by MAFFF, to visit its Vaini Research Station and Seeds Centre, as well as a visit to a private farm and multiplication plots on the field, managed by MAFFF. This was also a learning opportunity for regional and local media, to experience the work carried out by MAFFF with support from SPC, in the research and conservation of open pollinated seeds; multiplication and distribution of crops (especially post natural disaster); and support to national farmers.

Sharing his thoughts on the relevance of the workshop to regional media, Mr Olkeriil Kazuo; Press Secretary to the President of the Republic of Palau stated, “this workshop has been an eye opener for me. It has showed me new and innovative ways to get agri-info to the people as well as information on how they will best manage their farms – both commercial and subsistence”.

ENDS


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