To ensure extension service are delivered to rural farmers, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has employed over 30 Assistant Agriculture Officers (AAO) that are located through-out Vanuatu.
The importance of agriculture extension services can be defined as consisting of all the different activities that provide the information and services needed and demanded by farmers and other stakeholders in rural settings to assist them in developing their own technical, organizational, and management skills and practices so as to improve their livelihood and well-being.
Despite the challenges faced by AAOs in the field to provide extension services to farmers by reaching out to them, efforts are invested to ensure adequate services are provided.
In the past, more male AAOs were recruited but recently, females were also recruited to fill in the position of an AAO.
One of these recent recruits is the AAO for North West Santo, Dilala Maoh.
She was employed by DARD this year as the AAO for North West Santo.
Her role is to visit farmers of North West Santo at their farm and assist them with any issues that may arise.
“I also work closely with GIZ climate change office to set up demonstration plots and irrigation systems in schools located in the North West and West coast of Santo. The schools are Limarua, Ian Livo, Selusia and Dayspring,” said AAO Maoh.
Demonstration plots were divided into three groups. Vegetables, root crops and a plot for cucumbers and pumpkins.
AAO for North West, Ms Maoh stated that “In West Coast of Santo, there is no access to proper roads except bush roads. The main means of transportation is on horseback, by boat and ship. But due to high cost of travelling by ship and boat, horse is the cheapest mode of transportation.
“My main means of transportation to visit farmers is by horse. I use horse most times when going out into the field.
AAO Maoh said, “Before the end of 2019, one of the activities would be the distribution of coconuts in West Coast Santo. One other important activity is data collection of key farmers of North West and West Coast of Santo.
“When we talk about agriculture, we think of men first but in reality, most times women leave the house to go to the garden first. So I would like to encourage other women to take up the challenge of working as AAOs if they have the opportunity.”
Currently, there are only three female AAOs. Two on Santo and one on Efate.
Photo supplied Caption: AAO Officer Dilala Maoh in remote North West Santo