Many government agencies, international organisations and policy researchers are increasingly of the view that handouts and subsidies are not only ineffective, but in fact are detrimental. Why?
The reasons are numerous. Most Pacific countries still rely on traditional delivery of extension services (agriculture and forestry), which tends to rely on a top-down approach whereby researchers produce solutions to problems (e.g. how to deal with an agricultural pest, which technologies should be used) and extension officers are expected to encourage communities to follow their recommendations.
Agriculture and forestry development efforts in the Pacific are often confined to project-based interventions, and very little effort has been made to mainstream participatory approaches in national policies.
The rural poor need to be given the means to participate fully in the development of their resources in order to maximise the benefits from them. Balancing the effective, sustainable management of agriculture and forest resources with economic, social and environmental factors has emerged as one of the key challenges in natural resource management.
Institutionalising participatory approaches to agriculture and forestry development is advocated to support sustainable development in the Pacific region.