Community members of Penata Botong, in West New Britain have expressed their desire to improve their way of farming. Penata Botong is located on Bali Vitu rural LLG, an island located on the north west of the mainland of Kimbe surrounded by smaller atolls and coral fringes.
While acknowledging the support of NARI in facilitating various interventions and training, the locals hope to use them to improve their farming practices. They expressed this during a visit by a team from our Island Regional Centre led by Fred Besari, Simaima Kapi, Fidelis Hela and Alex Galus who travelled there last July to conduct a week-long training and implement other project related activities.
A total of 40 male and female participants took part in the training from 23 – 26 July. Sessions covered included: nursery establishment and management, rapid multiplication skills for propagating food crops, importance of cover crops and natural resources management. The team also used the opportunity to establish a multiplication plot that would become the central point to multiple planting materials in bulk to distribute to the community. Crops planted at the multiplication plot included: sweetpotato, taro, aibika, cassava, cow pea and dolichos (native bean in Africa). Over 700 planting materials of a variety of crops were also distributed to the participants, with the intention of them in turn becoming distribution points in their own communities.
The training was part of the European Union supported Action on climate change resilience being implemented across 15 communities across 11 coastal provinces. Bali Vitu LLG is one of the sites in the Islands Region. The other being Pobuma, in the Manus province. There were a lot of positive responses by participants who have expressed their desire to improve their farming practices by utilizing what they had learnt through the training. Among the skills they wish to apply included: nurseries for food crops, use of legume plants like beans and peanuts to improve soil fertility, propagation skills among others.
The team observed that planting materials from old gardens were likely to be responsible for transmitting pests and diseases from one area to another. Demonstrations were done on how to select healthy (quality) planting materials and do surface cleaning using locally available resources such as bleach diluted with water to minimize the risk.
The training was undertaken with the full engagement of the LLG officers as they are expected to conduct similar training to other communities in the area. Some the LLG officers have already undergone TOT training under the project and will be further trained in upcoming TOT training workshops.