This year the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) recovery project has supported the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster with funding of Vt50 million
, purposely to rehabilitate livelihoods affected by Cyclone Pam of Shefa and Tafea Province.
The funds were allocated within responsible departments under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity as implementation agency of the project.
The Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (DARD) has received Vt2 million that was used to purchase coconut seed nuts from Vanuatu Agriculture Research Training Centre to distribute in Tafea and Shefa purposely for food and replanting of old and new plantations, Vt3 million were for the repair of Tagabe Agriculture station and Isangel Agriculture Station and another Vt3 million were budgeted for food security including planting of potatoes, in particular Tanna.
The DARD has currently worked closely with its partner Vanuatu Direct and the Sowers and Growers (S&G) to successfully implement the potato project on Tanna. Earlier this year the Vanuatu Direct has received 10 tons of potatoes under the project to support its contract growers and June this year the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) has also been supported with five tons of potatoes seeds distributed through its network around farmers on Tanna including Lenakel Presbyterian College (LPC). The PCV is expecting another arrival of 5 tons of potatoes later on this month. Last month the DARD received five tons of potatoes which were distributed around farmers on Tanna with technical expertise and support from the S&G.
The DARD and its implementing partners (S&G) has distributed potato seeds throughout all areas on Tanna, working directly with farmers’ association, NGOs and the farming communities to promote potato planting as a food security crop in the country. Research experience shows that, 1 ha of land will be planted with two tons of potato seeds and should produce at least seven tons of potatoes.
Therefore it is expected that by end of this year Tanna should produce about 35 tons of potatoes that would eventually be market through the S&G network on contract conditions. Other farmers may also wanted to preserved seeds for next planting season and or distributed to interested farmers on Tanna and to other islands.
On Tanna, potato seeds were distributed to 39 farmers of Yarofi areas of south Tanna area (i.e. Yapkapen and Imaki), 55 farmers of Itunga community on West Tanna and Middle Bush area. The S&G also distributed potato seeds to 32 farmers at South, South West, West and Central Tanna under contract agreement to supply the market.
The LPC is not new to potato planting and has now planted half a hector of Potatoes under the IFAD recovery project. The DARD team on Tanna that was headed by Provincial Agriculture Officer (PAO) Sam Naiu is working very hard with the S&G team as the time is ticking to get farmers planted as soon as possible.