A group of young people that are members of Vanmel Community Association (VCA) were fortunate to participate in a vegetable training of Train of Trainers (TOT), facilitated by the Vegetable Specialist of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Heggar Molisa, with the assistance of Nursery Worker, Morry Watek.

The one day training includes theory and practical sessions.

Vanmel Community Association ( VCA) was established in 2010 to oversee the governance and needs of people in the community. Vanmel community consist of villages on the island of Pentecost namely Letor, Nokobujuka, Nokonbok, Onlap, Nokonkaop, Savat, Vanbok, Salevakal, Levaka, and Lewuk villages.

The island of Pentecost is well known for its massive kava production.

Improving the livelihood of these communities is one of the main focus of the association. The livelihood of the people depends entirely on agriculture.

Encouraging youth to invest in agriculture is essential therefore they need to acquire the technical information and skills in vegetable farming.

The Vanuatu Agriculture Sector Policy provides for this initiative as stated in chapter 2.1.7 to ‘Increase the participation through the conduction of gender-based trainings for women, youths and vulnerable groups and in chapter 13.1.1 to ‘Encourage and engage participation of women, youths, and vulnerable groups in all agriculture practices’.

“This is a first ever vegetable training for these young people.

“The aim of the training is for these young people to return home and assist community members by organizing similar vegetable training,” said Mathias Bulewak, President of Vanmel Community Association.

Mr Bulewak said the training is very important because the participants will bring the knowledge back to the community to teach other farmers to grow vegetables and also the information will assist them as youths to engage in backyard gardens.

The VCA has requested training on vegetable husbandry and farming systems, seeds preservation and organic pest and disease control.

The participants were provided with information materials on different types of vegetables, pest and disease and vegetable seeds.

The practical session includes the process of preserving seeds for the next planting season and planting of seedlings.

Participants said the information they received will assist them when they return to Pentecost.

Some of the participants residing in peri-urban areas of Port Vila were already doing backyard gardens and the training has motivated them to improve what they are already doing.

Rebecca Mabon is a student who is currently studying at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Emalus campus. She was one of the participants of the vegetable training of TOT.

“As a youth, I am so fortunate to attend such training. Growing up in a rural area back home, our lives depend on agriculture.

“I have obtained technical information that I didn’t know of on growing different types of vegetables and the pests and diseases that could affect the vegetables and the organic methods of controlling these pests and disease.

“The information materials on vegetables will really help me to gain more knowledge and to put into practice what I have learnt and also to continue to pass on the knowledge to other young people in my community.

“Most people do not want to get their hands dirty, maybe because they work in an office, but at the end of the day, they need food on the table.

“So where do those healthy food come from? They come from the soil.

“Since childhood days until now, our life depends on the soil. Our food comes from tilling the soil.

“I would like to encourage young people to involve in agriculture because our lives depend on agriculture.

“Getting your hands dirty is having healthy food on the table,” Rebecca Mabon concluded.

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