Over the last two years, CTA’s Youth leading learning in climate-resilient value chains in the Pacific (YLLP) project has supported a variety of activities aimed at improving livelihood opportunities for young farmers by training them on using ICTs to promote organic farming practices.
The project was launched in 2015 by POETCOM/SPC following a CTA grant won by that organisation. It builds on activities of IFAD’s Capacity building for resilient agriculture in the Pacific (CBRAP) project, implemented by POETCOM, which supports young farmers working with producer organisations in nine Pacific countries, including Tonga and Vanuatu, to learn climate-resilient agricultural practices.
Within these aims YLLP had four key specific objectives:
- To train young people working with leading producer organisations in the Cook Islands, Niue and the Republic of the Marshall Islands to provide technical production and marketing support to 400 young farmers using social media and other ICTs;
- To support young farmers to document and disseminate the eight best farming practices for improving climate-resilience, including improved traditional practices, again using ICTs, social media and networks of young farmers; To
- facilitate the development of ICT marketing tools by young people to promote the products of each producer organisation;
- To develop a shared social media platform on Facebook for youth members of each producer organisation to share information and learning on climate-resilient agriculture and agricultural entrepreneurship.
How did YLLP achieve these goals and was it successful?
During its first year of operation the project hosted over 100 young people at workshops, which taught them how to use Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook and YouTube to innovatively communicate and present their experiences in using climate-resilient agriculture. Building on this in year two, the project helped young people to understand organic farming can help to protect food security by strengthening farm resilience to climate change. Participants learned how to deliver this narrative through various forms, including poetry, news reports, plays and video. The project culminated with a regional learning exchange workshop that took place on 9-13 October 2017, the week before the Pacific Week of Agriculture (PWA). The workshop was split between classroom work in Port Villa and farm demonstrations in Teuma, Vanuatu, and involved 16 men and women between the ages of 16 and 39. The workshop facilitated peer-to-peer learning, which allowed the transfer of knowledge and skills amongst the young farmers, and empowered them to apply new climate-resilient practices. Following the workshop participants shared how they were testing out the techniques, they had learned from each other on their farms in their own countries via Facebook. Selected participants were asked to stay in Vanuatu to prepare and present a side event about organics and building resilience to climate change during the PWA, which attracted a larger crowd than any other side event of the week.
Training young people to provide technical production and marketing support
Fifty young people working with three lead producer organisations in the Cook Islands, Niue and the Republic of the Marshall Islands were thus trained and mentored to provide technical production and marketing support to 400 young farmers using social media and other ICTs. During three field visits (one in each country), communications officers from the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community trained the youth in online and offline marketing tools and demonstrated the importance of social media marketing. The session also taught the young farmers to produce simple marketing fliers and brochures to save on material production cost.
Supporting youth to document and disseminate eight best practices
With support from the YLLP team, youth reported on IFAD's CBRAP field trials to demonstrate the impact of organic practices on key climate-resilient indicators. The best practices from these trials were documented in farmer fact sheets and 'how to videos,' which covered a range of topics from planting organic bananas to water bottle irrigation and intercropping. The fact sheets can be downloaded from the Organic Pasifika website and have been shared in hard copy and on USB keys in project countries. The videos are available on the Organic Warriors Facebook page. At the regional learning exchange workshop held in Port Villa, participants were asked to create storyboards for demonstration videos and showcase them to the rest of the group in order to hone their presenting skills. The participants then travelled to Teuma village to film their demonstration videos on farm plots. A number of key lessons were learned during this process, including the importance of team meetings to thoroughly discuss the approach in advance and the need for good internet connection to record high-quality Facebook Live videos.
Developing ICT marketing tools for producer
The learning exchange workshop also included sessions on 'market branding and connection', which helped participants identify the values of their brand and think about their products' unique selling points, and then taught them how to communicate these clearly. Some participants came up with brand statements, like Teariki from the Cook Islands who created his slogan 'Healthy soil, Healthy people'. Since the workshop took place, the young farmers from the Cook Islands and Niue have started an organic night market, which they advertise and promote via social media. These events are providing a valuable new income stream for young farmers.
Creating a shared social media platform on Facebook
It was agreed that after the first year of the project the three separate country pages should be merged into one Pacific Organic Warriors page. In the aftermath of the learning exchange participants continued to post about their attempts to trial the climate-resilient farming techniques they had learned. However, many of the youth have their own Facebook pages where they also share what they learnt.