In driving the importance of agriculture throughout the Central Province, the Southern Regional Department of Agriculture and Livestock hosted a weeklong workshop ending on the 8th of September with the local Avi Avi Cooperative society being the host venue in Aipeana village, Mekeo.
Cocoa and vanilla farmers came from the nearby Inaui village to share their experiences and challenges in a conducive environment. The workshop also looked at issues faced by cocoa and vanilla farmers and what can be done to mitigate these issues.
Augustine Maino, a cocoa and vanilla farmer from Inaui, told participants that if agriculture has to work, three other agencies must also play their parts to enable the industry to be successful.
These agencies, Maino said, are "the farmer, DAL, and the Government. When these three bodies are aligned and doing their jobs, there is no excuse that agriculture will not move forward, this coupled with good managers who are honest and equipped, will see a smoother transition.”
Central Governor Rufina Peter could not attend due to other commitments, but a small delegation led by Michael Atuai, the Governors Agriculture Projects Officer, represented her.
In making his remarks, Atuai apologized on behalf of the Governor for her absence, and noted the concerns shared by the farmers.
“One of the things missing in a culture like Mekeo and Kairuku society is our Chiefs are often forgotten. I thank you for this point and Governor will be informed accordingly. I am happy when I see young leaders like Patrick Avi, it's always good to see young people taking the lead in economic aspiration," he said.
"A lot of youths don’t always work hard in this, and Patrick is an example. The good Governor will be informed of the things discussed at this workshop and the challenges faced.”
Southern Region Director for DAL Leka Mou thanked Governor Peter for sending a team to see first hand the work being carried out. Mr. Mou also spoke of the importance of having a plan that "combines all commodities into one.”
“Last week, Michael Atuai and I were at Kwikila station and we are putting together a final plan. For the past week we have been working very hard to put this plan together which will be completed tomorrow so that in the space of agriculture everyone will be on the same page in the province, which will also align with Governor Peter's five year development plan,” he said.
The farmers from the two Mekeo villages of Inaui and Aipeiana completed the workshop invigorated with new skills and assurances that support will be given from DAL and the Central Governor's office.