Sixty-four households from Divers Bay on the remote island of Ureparapara in Torba Province are enthusiastically cultivating new opportunities to diversify food production and foster economic growth with assistance from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“We’ve seen a lot of changes since the project came last year. Since SPC built the copra shed and provided the 10 hot air driers to the community, we’ve been able to produce 60 tons of copra which is worth around 300 thousand Vatu,” the Chief of Divers Bay, David Reuben, said.
“We sold it to a company in Santo and another ship is going to come back again. Before the ship would come maybe once or twice a year because we didn’t have any place to store our copra.”
The new copra venture is part of the regional initiative, Vegetation and Land Cover Mapping and Improving Food Security for building resilience to a changing climate in Pacific Island Communities, currently being implemented in six Pacific Island nations in partnership with the governments and local communities.
It promotes the diversification and sustainability of land-based food production systems through an integrated farming approach that encompasses agro-forestry, crop and livestock diversity, planting material supply as well as pest and disease monitoring and prevention.
“What we found when we carried out our assessments on Ureparapara is that food production and diversity is quite low for many reasons including climate related challenges, and around 29 percent of food consumed is imported,” SPC’s Food Security Technical Officer, Gibson Susumu, explained.
Mr Susumu added, “By providing resilient crop material from SPC, partnering with the community to build the copra shed, nurseries and communal vegetables gardens, plus introducing livestock and training, each household has better access to healthier food alternatives and can also earn some extra income.”
Community involvement and commitment plays an integral role in sustaining the project’s objectives and achievements.
Rosina Ling is part of the Lealorup Women’s Group that is responsible for maintaining the communal vegetable plot in Divers Bay.
“It is important for women to be involved because we feed our families. Planning a backyard garden is new to us but through the training we know how to space our crops, when to plant seasonal crops and compared to the past we now produce a lot more food,” Ms Ling said.
“When the vegetables are harvested we sell some and the leftover we distribute for the families to cook with at home. The money we raise goes back to the group so we can buy seedlings for planting again,” she said.
Contact: Ms. Vuki Buadromo, SPC USAID Project Manager, [email protected] or +679 337 0733
For more information please visit www.spc.int/rmc
Photo: Romone Luke, SPC/USAID Project Coordinator for Vanuatu.