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).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
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Sunday, May 27, 2007
Posted 2:20 AM by Tevita
Villagers learn best practices
From: Fiji Times
Friday, May 25, 2007
Drawa villagers in the interior of Vanua Levu count themselves lucky to be part of a community-based sustainable forest management initiative by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Pacific-German Regional Forestry Project (GTZ).
Today, the villagers are reaping the benefits of this community-based initiative in terms of knowledge and skills gained through training and the added income from logging and farming.
SPC coordinator Steven Hazelman said during discussions with the villagers in 2006, they asked for dalo planting material to help in food security and as an alternative source of income.
"Instead of just supplying the planting material for the villagers, we decided to run training for them on the process of growing quality taro that will meet export requirements," he said.
Drawa Village is located in the district of Wailevu, in Cakaudrove Province.
The road to Drawa, however, originates from Lutukina district (past Seaqaqa) in Macuata Province. Getting to Drawa Village means crossing the Macuata-Cakaudrove border through some of the most rugged terrain on Vanua Levu.
Mr Hazelman said the idea then was to start a model taro farm in Drawa that would give the villagers the opportunity to have a "hands-on-training" on all the recommended practices of producing export quality taro and to see first-hand how the quality can be affected through poor management practices.
To get the project under way, SPC/GTZ collaborated with the Agriculture Ministry's research and extension divisions on the supply of dalo suckers and expertise on on-farm research trials.
Mr Hazelman said the villagers were supplied with 6000 dalo suckers in 2006 to establish the dalo farm that acted as trial plots.
"By assisting the researchers in the collection of data from land selection to harvesting, the villagers learnt valuable knowledge and skills on the correct way to run a commercial dalo farm.
"Some of the things they learnt included the importance of analysing the fertility of their land through the soil testing method in order to supply dalo plants with the right amount of fertiliser, the importance of weed control and the right time to harvest for top quality corm."Mr Hazelman said by addressing soil fertility, villagers were able to use land that was close to the village and which had been used many times over the years, to produce top quality dalo.
"One of the concerns of the villagers was the increasing rate of clearing the forest areas around their village for farming. "As the soil loses fertility from constant use over the years, villagers kept clearing new areas for new crops.
"Today, they have to walk for hours just to get to their farms and presented a growing concern on how far they had to carry farm inputs and produce."
With the technology developed from the trial plots, the farmers have now realised they have the necessary knowledge and skills to improve production from idle land close to their village.
Waisali Farms owner Sam Foi, who buys the taro from the villagers, is very happy and satisfied with the quality of the crop.
This has given the villagers an added incentive to grow as an additional source of income to logging and yaqona.
Mr Hazelman said from the 6000 dalo suckers they supplied, villagers now had over 20,000 suckers for the next crop.
Drawa Village headman Laisenia Drodrolagi said the help and support provided by the SPC-GTZ, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, had given them hope and a new lease of life. "We had always relied on yaqona for income. Now we have two sources of income that we can tap," he said.
"The village is grateful to SPC, GTZ and their partners for what they have done for us.
"We hope this partnership will continue to grow for the benefit of the people of Drawa.
"The training conducted by SPC-GTZ has enabled them to cultivate land closer to the village that had been left idle because of constant use and poor fertility. "Until the introduction of this technology, our farms were usually located on virgin land far from the village and we had to travel for hours on foot to reach them."
The Drawa model area for community-based sustainable forest management encompasses 6345.5 hectares of mountainous terrain, covered with indigenous and restored secondary forest.
Most of the area is in Cakaudrove, although a part of it is in Macuata. Mr Hazelmen said the model area was under native land tenure, with customary ownership belonging to 11 landowning units (mataqali).
"There are six main villages for Drawa mataqali members and their households with Drawa and Vatuvonu located within the model area, Keka and Lutukina are in the periphery area and Batiri and Nayarailagi villages located north of the model area," he said.
"In 1994, the Fiji Forestry Department selected the Drawa block as a model site for the sustainable management (SFM) of native forests in Fiji and this was the start of the partnership with the people of Drawa."Since 1999, the Forestry Department with the support of the SPC/GTZ has been working with the landowners of Drawa to develop a community-based sustainable forest management regime for their natural forests. When the project started, the Drawa Block was under the concession of Fiji Forest Industries (FFI), which expired in 1999.
FFI, at first maintained its right for extension, based on the old concession agreement of 1964, but after consultations and negotiations, FFI surrendered the Drawa Block in 2003.
The Drawa Block is now under the concession of the community-based Drawa Forest Landowners Co-operative Ltd. (DraFCo), thus ensuring legal long-term security and control of their forest resources.
Mr Hazelman anticipates the experiences gained from the Drawa model area will assist other viable community-based sustainable forest management regimes for native forests in Fiji and contribute towards the mainstreaming of participatory rural land use planning in Fiji.
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