Senior management officers, Technical Officers and the Provincial Agriculture Officers of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), that attended the week-long business planning workshop in Port Vila recently, were fortunate to have the presence of the Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Moses Amos, who shared some insights on the importance of a business plan as a roadmap for DARD in 2020.
When acknowledging the presence of DG Amos, the Director for DARD, Antoine Ravo, said the outcome of the business planning workshop would be a draft of the 2020 DARD business plan.
“The 2020 DARD business plan is built- on this year’s plan with MALFFB’s mission statement of being strategic, innovative and high performing.
“The mission statement for DARD in 2020 is creating a viable and sustainable agriculture sector through partnership.
“Through partnerships, DARD can meet its targets for 2020.
“The DARD has signed agreements with nine private sector service providers in 2019 under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) policy directives of MALFFB and is hoping to partner more with the private sector in 2020.
“The main idea of working in partnership with the private sector is to enable our services to be more viable, practical, creative and sustainable.
“DARD has implemented many programmes but the challenge is the sustainability of our programmes.
“So working in partnership with the private sector, appropriate Monitoring and Evaluation can be done to evaluate and follow up on programmes to ensure sustainability.”
Director Ravo stated that “DARD officers have achieved around 55% of 2019 targets. There were challenges that officers see them as opportunities to build on and move forward”.
Mr Ravo also acknowledged the support from the DG’s office saying that “some of the achievements for 2019 indicate the success of the entire MALFFB and the national government and at the end of the day, we are serving the same population of Vanuatu who are our farmers”.
2020 is an important year as Vanuatu will be celebrating its 40 years of political independence.
DG Amos reiterated that the dream of the fore fathers of independence was for Vanuatu to become self-reliant.
He echoed the speech delivered by late Father Walter Lini on July 30 1980, stating that, “For a country to become self-reliant, it starts on your plate” (food security).
“This simply means that in order for Vanuatu to stand firm alone, it should be able to feed its people first.
“For a country to talk about development but still imports food overseas, it is not yet ready (to be self-reliant).”
Mr Amos says some key sectors that were established during the early ‘80s includes coffee on Tanna, cacao on Malekula, fisheries at Palekula (Santo), cattle at White Bulluk (Efate) and South Santo cattle project.
“2020 is 40 years after independence, a very important year to reflect on what our fore fathers have set as a stepping stone of Vanuatu’s independence.
“DARD’s mission statement for 2020 is very important because through partnership, we can achieve a lot of things,” the DG said.
Amos, who is a former director of Fisheries Department, said he has not engaged a lot in agriculture and taking up his role is a learning time where he is observing and evaluating the roles of all departments under MALFFB.
“I have observed that there is a vibrant momentum in agriculture.
“Few years back, agriculture was different. Today agriculture is at another level and this is because of the policies in place that demonstrate the innovations that are driving the development of Vanuatu agriculture sector.
“In the past, we deal with agriculture in general, but today, agriculture is allocated into different crops so our focus is on those crops,” DG Amos told DARD Officers during the 2020 business planning workshop.
He continued: “2020 as you all talked about in your planning, will be different because all plans will be linked with the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), sector policies, corporate plan, Overarching Public Sector Policy (OPSP), business plan then work plan.
“In 2020 the Monitoring and Evaluation will change to Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL).
“When we monitor and evaluate our plans then we learn where it needs improvement so we can become more strategic, innovative and high performing.
“With the direction that MALFFB is currently heading to with the establishment of Vanuatu Primary Producers Authority (VPPA), gradually we will look at zoning to identify which islands are productive in certain crops for us to devote our resources to, for us to tackle the issue of import substitution through projections for the next five years, through the Ministry of Trade.
“For example if potato grows well on Tanna Island then all resources regarding potato will go to Tanna.
“Then we can answer questions with certainty regarding importation of crops that can be grown here in Vanuatu like potato, carrot and onion that maybe in the next five years, there will be reduction on the importation of carrot.
“We need to work with a system that will be easy to monitor, evaluate and identify areas that we need to improve on.
“One of the areas that needs improvement is human resources and staff welfare.
“One of the important issues that DARD needs to address in 2020 is reviewing the structure to ensure smooth implementation of activities under the 2020 Business Plan.
“If there is a need to strengthen some areas, reduce or expand our work then it’s good to reflect the plan in the structure and remuneration package.
“The Government has put its focus on the productive sector so within the next five years we have that advantage to expand our activities as long as we can prove to the government that we need these budget and human resources to deliver these services,” DG A