Discussing the digitalisation of agriculture across the Pacific

Fifty-two network members and subject matter experts came together on 29 July for a Pacific Connect talanoa on the digitalisation of agriculture throughout the region. The latest network dialogue in the program focused on digital agriculture initiatives currently being undertaken by Pacific Connect Community members in Fiji, Lae (PNG) and Solomon Islands. Following on from the ground-breaking Storytelling & Digital Media Virtual Dialogue, the Digital AgriTech Virtual Dialogue saw Australians mix with their Pasifika counterparts online while delegates in Honiara, Lae and Suva came together at our community networking hubs.

Prior to the event, participants were able to begin networking, review agriculture digitalisation content, present their ‘Ask and Offer’ and promote their initiatives with introductory videos on the dedicated Pacific Connect Slack platform. Community engagement on Slack is a key component of Pacific Connect Virtual Dialogues, and there are more than 70 network members engaged on the agriculture-specific channel, sharing project updates, answering questions, and organising networking events.

Co-facilitators Cameron Neil and Olisana Mariner opened the event with introductions and an overview of the expectations for the day. The second session of the talanoa saw presentations of four emergent projects run by Pacific Connect Community members. Fiji-based member Fred Fuakilau gave an informative presentation on the digitalisation of soil health in Fiji. He touched on the Organic Integration Project and the opportunities provided to local female farmers through this initiative. Martha Raka and Fabio Vella updated participants on the Digital Agriculture Farmer Portal, a brainchild of her cooperative organisation, Sere J Pacific.

Following the lunch break, during which participants had the opportunity to network in tailored virtual breakout rooms or in person, James Kana gave an update of the fast-progressing Less Than Container Load (LCL) project, which aims to dramatically reduce shipping container costs in the Solomon Islands. Technology introduced via the LCL project will result in revolutionary agriculture benefits and the faster access to the global marketplace for the country’s farmers. Veteran Community members Kenneth and Shauna Katafono rounded out the presentations with an overview of blockchain’s potential in the agriculture industry and how Traceable Solutions’ digital traceability tools are assisting farmers. Participants were able to engage with the presenters via a curated Q&A session, facilitated by Cameron and Olisana.

To satisfy program outcomes of building relationships through project development, Virtual Dialogue participants self-allocated into breakout rooms to dive into technical detail on the projects, offer advice and collaborate on developments moving forward. A key facet of the talks was the expansion of digitalisation into remote areas and cross-project collaboration.

The action-packed event concluded with the ‘Ask & Offer’, a signature element of Pacific Connect Dialogues whereby a participants asks for advice or collaboration and provides expertise in a relevant field.

ICDP congratulates the Dialogue co-facilitators and participants on a tremendous event that promises to deliver meaningful collaboration on digital agriculture initiatives throughout the region, all the while improving long-term regional relationships. We look forward to providing further updates on progress with these projects and new ones coming out of the discussions, and supporting the participants in these endeavours!

To view the presentations from the event, please access the video here.