Take them to the bush
Huggard Tongatule from Lakepa village is growing Niue’s biggest organic orchard.
‘It will supply Niue with all its fruit needs, replacing imports substantially or entirely,’ he said.
To do this, he is also building partnerships, with the players in the tourism sector like Matavai Resort and other accommodation houses.
Not discounting the supermarkets and shops and village canteens, his orchard network will penetrate every corner and breadth of the ‘Rock of Polynesia.’
It is a big dream. He wants to prove something as well. That young people like him can earn a good living from farming. It takes a little motivation and a lot of hard work. What’s key as well for children to like and enjoy farming is for parents and grandparents to ‘take them to the bush.’
‘My daughter is only a year old but I take her to the bush, to farm,’ she said.
‘I want to raise her like I was raised.
‘The link between parents, and their parents and the farm is being taken over by technology, IPad, movies, phones and social media that our children are getting lost in.
‘The young generation now is spoilt. They view farming as hard work and only want the easy way of earning money.
‘I’m doing this now because as a child my parents took me to the bush and taught me organic farming/traditional tips.
‘The lessons remained in my heart, even when I went away to study. I farm onions, taro, and vegetables of all kinds, taro, cassava and yams. We eat and I make money from it.’
Huggard is also the biodiversity and conservation officer at the Ministry of Environment, concerned with the presentation and sustainable management of Niue’s flora and fauna.
It dovetails well with his passion for organic farming.
‘Organic farming protects biodiversity because of the less intrusive and harmful practices that define it. The tapestry of life thrives with biodiversity,’ he said.
‘Humans are intricately connected to this web of life. Holes in the web, spells trouble for us.
‘It’s why we must take our children to the bush and show them the organic way of farming.
‘The more disconnected our children are from nature, the less they value it making it vulnerable and exploited.
‘Our biodiversity is at risk unless we get our children farming organically.’
Huggard’s orchard project is supported through the IFAD CBRAPP as a member of the Niue Island Organic Farmers Association.