The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) witnessed the official opening of yet again another new development to the existing agriculture facilities at Tagabe in Port Vila, this time it is the opening of a brand new tractor shed to house the farming tractors and the farming implements of Agriculture Department.

The new shed, which was jointly opened by the Australian High Commission Deputy High Commissioner, Susan Ryle and the Director General of MALFFB, Moses Amos cost around VT4.5 million.

In 2016, the Government of Vanuatu commenced a TC Pam Cyclone Recovery and Economic Strengthening Programme in Provinces of Vanuatu working across the sectors of education, health, agriculture, and Public buildings with funding assistance from the Australian Government (DFAT) through the Department of Strategic Policy Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC).

The MALFFB through the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) have gone through a prioritization process that has developed key programmes and projects aligning directly to sector strategies, policies and work plans of the department’s personnel. Thus, to assist farmers to improve livelihoods and increase production opportunities throughout Vanuatu.

DARD has identified and procured tractors in support of its policies, providing mechanisation to increase production and assisting farmers with land clearing, improving access roads, digging dams, post hole preparation for fencing and ploughing fields that will assist farmers in land management through cultivating their land efficiently and increased productivity and yield.

Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Susan Ryle said she is pleased to be celebrating yet another milestone under the TC Pam Recovery and confirmed that this project is the last activity under the Australian funding for the DARD.

“Thank you for the welcome and invitation to attend the launching of the “Sepeta Warehouse and Tractor Shed” this afternoon…which I understand is named after a long-serving staff member — a lovely gesture.”

Ms Ryle said under the TC Pam Recovery program some of the agriculture’s first projects funded under this recovery program were restoring food and producing gardens of many of the communities that were affected during the cyclone.

Their support included 48,000 coconut seedlings, 4,200 packets of onions and carrots seeds as well as island cabbage, yam, taro, manioc and pineapple planting material and these were distributed to farmers and households across SHEFA and TAFEA Provinces adding that around 15 tonnes of potatoes seedlings were also distributed to Tanna in 2017 and as a result, 52 tonnes of potatoes were produced in 2018 generating revenue of VT8.4 million to farmers.

“This is an amazing story and I remembered seeing photos of potatoes which were brought to Port Vila,” she said.

Ms Ryle said it was also great to see the commitment and leadership of the Ministry engaging with other sectors –Trade and Cooperatives — and the work they did in restoring the livelihoods of the population affected by TC Pam.

“Australia is delighted to finance the “Sepeta Warehouse and Tractor Shed” with the Vanuatu Government. The Warehouse and Shed will provide shelter for the tractor purchased under the recovery program, and will help to protect it from the effects of rain and wind,” she said.

Director General Amos thanked DFAT TC Pam Recovery Programme for funding the new tractor shed which cost around VT4.5 million and also for funding the first three tractors in 2017 which have now been deployed to Tanna, Erromango and Epi.

“Today we are here to witness another contribution through DFAT, the first ever tractor shed of the Ministry of Agriculture which will be used to house the farmer tractors and the farming implements of DARD at Tagabe area protecting from rain and security while maintaining DARD assets and for the sustainability of the program,” he said.

He added that DARD has identified and procured tractors in support of its policies providing mechanisation to increase production and assisting farmers with land clearing, improving access roads, digging dams, post hole preparation for fencing and ploughing fields that will assist farmers in land management through cultivating their land efficiently and increased productivity and yield.

The name of the tractor shed in Tagabe is Sepeta Tractor Shed and it was named after one of DARD’s longest serving dedicated staff, Joel Sepeta who has worked for over 31 years as a tractor operator.

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