Tuvalu farmers get EU help to boost crops
Tuvalu Director of Agriculture says US$600,000 of funding from the European Union for climate resilent crop initiatives is important to the country's survival.
Tuvalu Director of Agriculture says US$600,000 of funding from the European Union for climate resilient crop initiatives is important to the country's survival.
Itaia Lausaveve says the effects of climate change have already begun to make themselves felt with Tuvalu one of the worst affected countries, and the nation has to adapt to survive.
Jenny Meyer asked him about the agroforestry system introduced at a series of recent workshops for farmers.
ITAIA LAUSAVEVE: Agroforestry is a sustainable land use system where you want to integrate tree species together with food crops, perennials as well as annuals. So you integrate them together and you get more, maximum production from land use. I think for Tuvalu, given it's natural vegetation, it's actually a natural agroforest because our tree cover, the majority of our tree cover is dominated by cocoanut trees and we use them for food as well as timber for construction, handicrafts and so many other uses.
JENNY MEYER: What was discussed in the workshops?
IL: We tried to emphasise the purpose of the agroforestry to build our resilience against the effects of climate change by you know expanding food production or improving our food security looking at under utilised land. We have a lot of land that people aren't cultivating and this is where we want to focus. To increase our food security production through the agroforestry approach. And at the same time building resilience by introducing crops that are more drought resilient as well as saline tolerant as well.
JM: Can you give me some examples of what sorts of crops you're talking about?
IL: For example we are introducing cassava. Cassava is a well known root crop that can withstand long droughts. Its not a local crop, it's an introduced crop to Tuvalu. So we are promoting this, it grows very well in Tuvalu, given lots of composting. And we are also looking at some of our own traditional tree crops, you know of the more perennial tree crops, because a lot of our own tree crops are also very resilient to droughts. As well as some of the new introductions of some of the root crops which are saline tolerant.
JM: What was the reaction to this training by the farmers who attended it? Were they keen to get on and try some of the different planting techniques and try this new method of climate resistant crop management?
IL: Well a lot of them were very excited. And for us, in a lot of our under utilised land we are emphasising thinning out of trees, very closely spaced trees, you want to thin out the not healthier one and you leave the more healthier cocoanut tree species. The idea is that you don't want to remove everything. Because over time people need a lot of their own coconuts as well for their livestock. So what the thinning out will be able to provide people with production from cocoanut while we are still awaiting the new other tree species to fruit, like bananas, pawpaw, while we're still awaiting, it may take them a few years to fruit. But then you want to integrate annual crops which you can harvest within three months or four months, like cassava and sweet potatoes.
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