Farmers in Bali/Witu want to improve farming

Demonstration on how to make taro mini sett.

Farmers from Penatabotong ward council area in Kimbe, West New Britain want to improve their farming practices. Penatabotong is located on Bali/Witu, an island on the north west of the mainland of Kimbe surrounded by smaller atolls and coral fringes.

Staff of NARI’s Island Regional Centre led by Fred Besari, Simaima Kapi and Alex Galus conducted three days of training for forty participants in nursery management, seed multiplication and propagation techniques, cover crop, soil fertility, soil sterilization, and the establishment of a multiplication plot.

Training ran from July 23 to 26 in theory and practical sessions which include multiplying planting materials of taro, sweetpotato, aibika and cassava. This training is supported by the European Union through the Climate Change Resilience project to support communities affected by the 2015/16.

There were a lot of positive responses by participants who assured NARI officers to improve their farming practices by making nurseries for food and crops, use of legume plants like beans and peanuts to improve soil fertility, reduce burden of carrying bulking planting materials through seed multiplication and sterilizing soil using the ‘mumu’ (earth oven) technique.

Over 690 planting materials from NARI including local varieties of sweetpotato, taro, aibika, cassava, cow pea and dolichos (native bean in Africa) were planted to establish multiplication plots.

The team observed that old planting materials are responsible in transmitting pests and diseases from one area to another. Participants were taught how to select healthy looking seeds and surface cleaning on planting materials, using bleach and water. Most participants learnt the importance of using cover crops as cow pea and dolichos.

Cover crops are plants used to cover and improve soil fertility than for the purpose of being harvested. They mainly help to manage soil erosion, improve soil fertility, soil quality, control weeds, pests and disease.

One of the training facilitators Simaima Kapi explains that skills taught will be very useful in improving farming in the area. LLG officers were also engaged in delivering the training and ensure skills from the training are sustained into the future with local farmers.