A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
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Monday, January 31, 2005
Posted 2:49 PM by Luigi
COGENT project in Fiji: Women's group makes farming progress
From yesterdays' Fiji Times: http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=15713
With the New Year already rolling, activities are starting but for some it is the usual business that they are doing that takes up most of their time. For people living on the island of Cicia in Lau, life has a whole new meaning as they are about to embark on a journey that they will pass on to their children for years to come.
Lomati Village is one of the five villages on the island and is home to about 55 families that depend on farming and fishing for a living. Members of the village work together to develop their families, school and church in what they believe are the strong foundation of a better future. But one group has really made a difference in the village and they are none other than the mothers of the village.
The Lomati Womens Group was formed in the 1980's and is still running today due to the togetherness and sacrifices that the 56 members have done. Group leader Mrs Losana Temo has been organising the group for a good number of years and for her, being part of the group has taught her a lot on making a decent living.
Losana's group had been involved in activities like weaving, knitting and farming when they first began. "It was a difficult start for us but now we are doing okay since we began our pig farming business," she said.
Lomati Women's Group was assisted under the Ministry of Agriculture in 2003 where they were given materials to build their pig shed and was also given two female pigs (sows). "It was very generous of the ministry to give us the much needed boost to our proposed pig farm and we are happy to be continuing with the business." The women were assisted under the Coconut Based Income Generating Technologies (COGENT) project, which is part of the Ministry's program.
Senior Agriculture Officer (Lau), Mere Salusalu said that COGENT Project in Cicia was established in 2003 and aimed at reducing poverty in coconut growing communities. "This is an opportunity for the islanders to make a better living for themselves and their families and the good thing about the island of Cicia, is that each village has an organisation that has been running their own business," she explained.
"After we began selling our pigs to government officials on the island and even to relatives in Suva, the other groups in the village began to show interest in our project and have been assisting us in feeding the pigs and even cleaning the shed," she smiled.
Members of the group have been taking turns in cleaning and feeding the pigs and to date the group has five pigs that will be ready for sale in a few months time.
"We have sold two of our pigs already and each was sold for $250."
"It has not been easy but we trust our hearts that this business will grow throughout the years to come," Losana said.
The group is also looking forward to working with other groups on the island on the new decorticating machine that was installed on the island last year. The machine, which was also given under the COGENT project assists in the shreddng of the coconut husks into fine fibres that can be woven into door-mats.
During the one-week training by Agriculture officials, the five women's group from each village learnt the techniques of shredding the husks, plaiting it into ropes and making doormats from them. Senior Agriculture Officer (Lau) Mere Salusalu said that it was amazing to see the enthusiasm shown by the women on the island and is positive that many more good things will be able to develop on the island.
"The machine was installed the same week that the training was conducted and I am happy to see the developments that have taken place so far," she said.
Losana and her group believe that their pig project could really go hand in hand with the installation of the machine.
"The women are really happy that they now have a chance to show off their weaving skills and set the designs on the doormats that they will make from the coconut fibres," she said.
Life on the island has a total new meaning especially to the women as they all look forward to providing coconut husks for the machine and making ropes from them.
"After our training, we all agreed that each village was going to use the machine per month and we would keep rotating that way."
The women have been continuing with their program and have been meeting once a month to exchange ideas on the way forward for their group.
"It has been a great time for us women because it is a chance for us to share our views and just lighten the burden on our shoulders and we are grateful for the support given to us by our families," she said.
After several visits by agriculture officials, the women are determined that they will expand in the near future.
"We want to go into vegetable farming as well but we will see as we are also counting on the expert advice of our agricultural officer here in Cicia."
Losana hopes that more women will be able to see the advantages of farming.
"Some may take it as a dirty chore but we should look beyond all that and it will surely be a challenge for all the women out there," she advised.
The women from Lomati Village in Cicia, Lau are still continuing with their pig farming project and hope that it will be an eye-opener for those women that are thinking of doing the same.
Losana Temo (middle) sits with other participants and Agriculture officials on Tarukua Village in Cicia Island with their completed door mats made from coconut fibres that they produced with the Decorticating machine.
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