A five days training on Improving plant protection for 10 local farmer trainers from Malaita, Guadalcanal, Makira and Western Province ended friday last week.
Caroline Smith, Swinburne University of Technology, Victoria, and Grahame Jackson of TerraCircle Inc., NSW, were the facilitators, working in collaboration with Claudine Watoto of Kastom Gaden Association.
This was the second workshop with farmer trainers. The first was in May 2010 when the farmer trainers studied the symptoms, life cycles and management of plant pests and diseases. The present workshop took that training to a new level. The farmer trainers were presented with real-life situations. Four groups interviewed farmers in the Burns Creek Group and Henderson areas, found out their most pressing pest and disease problems, analysed them using fact sheets on the most common pests and diseases of Solomon Islands, and prepared extension messages based on a proforma that they had designed.
With Caroline’s expertise, the workshop took on a very participatory style, with lectures reduced to a minimum, given only when gaps in knowledge were found. For instance, symptoms caused by common diseases were identified as a gap, and collections were made and symptoms discussed. There was also a demonstration by two of the participants on preparing pest and disease samples to send to experts at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for identification. Plant Derived Pesticides were also promoted in order to replace commercial products that are expensive, and mostly unavailable in the rural areas.
One of the participants said that one of the important topics
that was covered during the training was how to identify symptoms and causes of pests and common disease of plants. He said “now I will be able to teach other farmers in my village especially on cultural control methods”. A young lady who attended the training said that before she had no idea of the life cycle of different pests which cause damage and now with this training she has gained good knowledge about the life cycle of pests and what stages in the cycle the pest causes damage to the plant.
“This training is a continuation of previously held training. As part of this training, trainers and facilitators are now working towards developing a simple and easy to manage training of trainers manual.
This training is made possible with the support of AusAID to Kastom Gaden Association. It is a follow up from the ACIAR-funded project Improved Plant Protection in Solomon Islands (IPPSI). IPPSI has produced a plant protection curriculum and manuals for trainers to train extension officers. The present project takes this a step further so that farmer trainers can train their colleagues. It will also produce a manual, and deliver an IPPSI objective to increase community awareness and understanding of plant pests a diseases, leading to improved and sustainable crop management.