East Sepik is the second province identified for E-Agriculture piloting in Papua New Guinea. The exercise will coincide with and become an integral part of the pipeline European Union funded programme ‘Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade (STREIT) in PNG’, which targets East Sepik and parts of West Sepik provinces.
The whole STREIT programme is aimed at contributing to poverty reduction through sustainable and inclusive economic development of rural areas, through the development of value chains of three commodities – cocoa, vanilla and coastal fisheries.
In order to achieve these, strengthened and efficient value chain support services or enablers such as ICT will be critical. Enabling the use of ICT for a better service provision in the rural areas will be envisaged, with a focus on women and youth.
ICT can provide access to knowledge and market information, extension services, financial services, weather and potential climate disasters. It is attractive for the younger population and adapted to rugged and remote environment.
In order to reap the potential of ICT to benefit rural development in the Sepik region, and later across PNG, it will be necessary to ensure that:
- ICT is available and affordable to the beneficiaries – this will require engagement with the telecommunication sector and provide training to the population about the use and benefits of ICT and
- content is available for transmission through ICT – this implies engagement with DAL and sector agencies, associated extension and research services, financial institutions, bureau of meteorology, departments of forestry and fisheries, and others.
The scope of activities will encompass research/information on post-harvest management of commodities to ensure high return to farmers, trade information on sanitary/phytosanitary requirements, certification process, marketing strategies. A comprehensive approach will ensure that rural population is benefiting from a well-developed range of support services through ICT.
Activities on ICT, as part of E-Agriculture, will be initiated after the STREIT programme commences in early 2019.