The Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity, Matai Seremaiah, has officially launched an integrated farming system model that was established at the Agriculture station on Mota Lava as a model for farmers to acquire valuable information that will assist them in setting up their own integrated farming system in the future.
The Assistant Agriculture Officer (AAO) for Mota Lava, Daniel Neneth, said the main idea of this model is to encourage people to do backyard gardens as most gardens are far away from the villages.
“Integrated backyard farming is important as only a small space is needed to implement many agricultural activities to assist in maintaining food security and livelihood of people,” AAO Neneth explained.
“This farming system includes feeding chickens, using chicken manure to plant vegetables, aquaculture fish farming and using its water to water the vegetables. At the end of the day we have sufficient food to feed our families.
“This is the first integrated farming system on Mota Lava and TORBA province and the second integrated farming system was set up on Rah island.”
With the tourism development projects in Rah island, the Vanuatu Skills Partnership, working in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Tourism Department and Livestock Department has set up the second integrated farming system to assist resort and bungalow owners to ensure vegetables are readily available at their backyard.
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) continues to advise farmers to establish such farming system.
AAO Neneth said, “many farmers are already indicating their interest so currently, DARD is working with the departments of Livestock and Fisheries to ensure the model integrated farming system at the Agriculture station is equipped with ducks, chicks and tilapia fish so that more integrated farms will be established.”
The benefit of integrated backyard farming is it increases productivity of different varieties of root crops and small livestock animals, as well as the profitability of using animal manure provides opportunity to smallholder farmers to adopt a new technology, and this approach is safe to the environment.
AAO Neneth encouraged farmers and schools around Mota Lava and TORBA province to visit the integrated farming system at the Agriculture Station.
Field days will be organized for students and farmers to visit the integrated farming system model and if anyone is interested, DARD officers will assist in setting up their farming system.
Vanuatu communities must fight against the impacts of climate change that is currently affecting us and to ensure it does not affect our food security, thus the only way is to come up with farming systems that are resilient to changes in the weather pattern.
The growing population pressure on small islands like Mota Lava with limited land for farming, burdens their food and nutrition security. So, the integrated backyard farming model is suitable to address these challenges.
The vision of the National Sustainable Development Plan targets a stable, sustainable and prosperous Vanuatu by 2030. There are three development aspiration that we could relate to, the first being us maintaining a natural environment on cultivated land that produce our local food, culture, economic and ecological need. The second is to ensure a high resilience capacity on climate change and other natural disaster and the third being a stable economic base on equitable, sustainable growth that creates employment and revenue in rural and urban areas.
The Department of Agriculture is mandated to assist farmers with technical knowledge on farming systems to reduce the impacts of climate change and to ensure food security and adequate food to sustain life of families and if there is surplus they can be sold to earn income.
The National Agriculture Policy has a policy directive that address the ‘environment friendly agriculture’ (Thematic area 8) and ‘food and nutrition security needs ‘(Thematic area 10) for the people of Vanuatu to work together with other stakeholders to address.