Young Pacific farmers hailed as entrepreneurs
It's hoped a workshop for young Pacific farmers about web and social media skills, will teach youth to think of farming as entrepreneurism, rather than just manual labour.
It's hoped a workshop for young Pacific farmers about web and social media skills, will teach youth to think of farming as entrepreneurism , rather than just manual labour.
The workshop, put on by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community, or POETCom, began in Niue last week, and will then move on to the Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands.
POETCom's co-ordinator, Karen Mapusua, told Leilani Momoisea social media and internet skills can be used for a number of things in the agriculture sector.
KAREN MAPUSUA: It can be used for marketing, direct marketing to consumers, and as part of campaigns. But it can also be used for sharing information and sharing learning and solving problems between farmers. So it's a really valuable tool particularly in that area of information sharing, extension wok, building capacity of farmers, that type of thing. I guess the other area is also around market information. Knowing what's happening in the market at a given day, prices and availability of products can also help farmers to respond to market needs more quickly.
LEILANI MOMOISEA: Was it difficult finding enough young farmers for this project?
KM: It's a really good question because young farmers are really light on the ground in a lot of countries but this particular aspect of the project has really gained interest. So we haven't had problems filling these courses in the initial stages at all, which has been great. The young people that we're training, one of the things that we'll be doing is continuing to share their skills with other people, so we'll meet that need eventually.
LM: There is the worry of ageing farmers, so do you think learning these skills - that's going to help attract more young people to farming as well?
kM: Yeah, that's I guess one of the hypotheses we're testing in this. Trying to change the concept of farming from that manual labour to entrepreneurism, to farming as a business. And of course marketing aspects, and the communication aspects are a really important part of that. So often we hear that agriculture is what you do if you can't get into university. But this is really saying that to be a farmer you need all these other skills and competencies as well. So by lifting agriculture to that level where it belongs, it's attracting people and I think will bring a change, and bring some younger people back into the industry that's so important.
LM: And is organic farming a part of this?
KM: Absolutely, it really is. And again that's another aspect that is attractive to young people and we think will engage more young people in agriculture. Internationally, the average age of organic farmers is around 7 years younger than conventional farmers, and one of the reasons we think that's happening is because young people are so concerned about their environment and concerned about climate change and concerned about all those issues about today. Organic agriculture is saying, well, we can be part of the solution to this, so it's not only about growing food, it's about growing food in a way that can help the planet deal with all those other really critical issues, that's attracting younger people towards organics.
Karen Mapusua says if the trend of aging farmers continues, there are real concerns about food and nutritional security in some island countries.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: