The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) has been instructed to complete the first draft of the Reintegrated Framework for Agricultural Workers by the end of this month, November.
The Director General (DG) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), Moses Amos, issued the instruction to the Director of DARD, Antoine Ravo and his team at the closing of a stakeholders workshop this week.
This framework will guide the government to support Ni-Vans involved in the labor schemes to utilize their skills and knowledge gained while working in New Zealand and Australia to benefit the agriculture sector.
It is an objective of the Agriculture Sector and Overarching Productive Sector Policy to encourage skilled productive sector workers to invest their knowledge and capital into the productive sector on return to the country.
However, there is no clear pathway to facilitate the process.
The workshop aims to obtain feedback from stakeholders on how to develop the pathway based on issues identified such as lack of business opportunities, not enough remittance, impacts on agricultural production and loss of labor.
As a result of lack of business opportunities, many returning workers invest their money either into personal holdings such as houses or assets.
A small number have invested in agricultural related business but there is still much potential to be explored. Through the framework, the government would support by providing additional information on investment and business models, as well as business training.
Reintegrating the skills and knowledge of agricultural workers into the productive sector will strengthen community engagement and empowerment, said DG Amos.
Stakeholders that attended the workshop include the Department of Labor, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Vanuatu Agriculture College, Ministry of Education and Trades, the private sector, agents and workers.
The governments of Australia and New Zealand are commended for funding the workshop, through the Pacific Labour Facility.