NARI supports Vanuatu agriculture

Vanuatu farmers participating in a kaukau trial of the EU-NARI project on Tanna island

Three farming communities in Vanuatu have benefited from new and improved farming practices and technologies between 2011-2015, courtesy of the NARI EU-ARD project.

Through the EU funded regional research and development project, and in partnership with the Vanuatu Department of Agriculture, NARI has worked with the farming communities to improve village-based agriculture for food security and income.

A series of training and demonstrations were conducted on improved livestock management practices and feeding systems on village chicken, pig and goats; crop diversification initiatives with yams, cassava and rice; crop improvement work on sweet potato; food processing and value addition efforts on a number of local and introduced root crops; and management systems in soil and water resources.

In the first week of December 2015, a team of NARI scientists were in Vanuatu conducting an evaluation on all project activities in the three project sites – Malafau and Siviri in North Efate and Middlebush on Tanna Island.

The feedbacks were overwhelming as model farmers (beneficiaries) told NARI and local scientists that the interventions introduced have benefited them with improved food production.

Some farmers even increased their level of income, which supported them in meeting other social and family needs.

However the major challenges they faced were the Cyclone Pam in March and El Nino in the second half of the year – which affected their farming activities. While few farmers could not recover from the devastating effects, many restocked and started their farming again with the support of the project.

Upland rice varieties had survived the cyclone and processed foods that were stored had helped some families when food supply was low after the natural disaster.

Project Leader Dr Birte Komolong said the feedbacks were overwhelming, despite the natural disasters.

Dr Komolong told participants that NARI has developed a partnership with local authorities to support agriculture in Vanuatu.

She said the whole idea was to provide options to local farmers with new and improved agriculture interventions for them to adopt and carry on with what worked for them.

The project’s Vanuatu Sub-coordinator Antoine Ravo said this was one of the successful projects ever implemented in Vanuatu under the partnership with the Vanuatu Agriculture Department.

Ravo said farmers have really appreciated what they saw and harvested in their own fields. He said there were many positive outcomes and the lessons learnt will be important for the Department’s future initiatives.

Ravo also thanked NARI for bringing the project to Vanuatu for the benefit of their farming communities, whose farming practices are no different to PNG.

Dr Komolong further told the farmers that the selected communities were fortunate to be part of the project and a responsibility they now have is to continue their activities as well as share their knowledge with others.

The project also benefited the Vanuatu Agriculture Department in terms of capacity development in a number of areas include research, development, information sharing and networking.

The regional project also covered three sites in Solomon Islands and five sites in PNG. Evaluations for the PNG sites were completed in November 2015 while those for Solomon Islands will be conducted in January 2016.

The five year project officially closes in early February 2016.

Photo caption: Vanuatu farmers participating in a kaukau trial of the EU-NARI project on Tanna island.