Wallis Youth in Organic Farming
Kenza Tufale farms at Akaaka on Wallis Island in the French territory of Wallis and Futuna.
She’s one of about thirty young people working with the Chambre de Commerce d’Industrie des Metiers et de l’Agriculture (CCIMA) through a project supporting young people’s participation in organic agriculture.
President of CCIMA Lauriane Verge says the goal of the project is to ensure that young people secure income sources.
‘Local production of fresh fruits, crops and vegetables is boosted. This is something that Wallis sorely needs,’ she sad.
Up to 95 percent of vegetables are imported from France making for a high import bill.
Vegetables are expensive. A kilogram of tomatoes costs about FJD 19 but could cost as low as FJD 5. If local supply substitutes imports. However, that is a dream that can materialise in a few more years.
In the meantime, Kenza just rejoices in the sales she makes from her crops.
‘I feel good seeing people come and buy what I’ve worked hard for,’ she said.
Leaving school a few years back, Kenza found it difficult to get a job. There were not many around.
Three months ago, she started farming, receiving technical advice and seed support through the project.
Her farm is an integrated mix of tomatoes, leafy vegetables and taro promoting the concepts of organic farming, like mulching and an abstinence from chemicals.
She also built a roadside stall as her marketing outlet.
‘Within only two hours I’ve sold out. I like to see that because it shows me I’m on the right track and what I am doing is a success,’ she told POETCom while on a recent visit to Fiji.
Kenza and three other young farmers supported through the project were excited to see the big markets in Lautoka City and Suva and to meet their peers farming in Fiji.
They were part of the Wallis and Futuna delegation visiting various farming sites and production facilities on mainland Viti Levu as a learning experience.
Heading the delegation, Verge said there is a lot of potential for Wallis and Futuna Islands to grow the agricultural economy.
‘We have largely unutilised resources. Domestic farming is thriving but we want to raise it to the next level like perhaps value adding,’ she said.
‘First we want to completely substitute vegetable imports and meet local demand. We need to become self-sufficient and that will require the major involvement of local farmers.’
The youth project is a start. Kenza’s farm is a strand in the bigger mat that the CCIMA is weaving for Wallis and Futuna and that is to be self-sufficient in foods like vegetables and also have a thriving agriculture sector.
While giving Kenza a source of income, it is also intended to inspire other unemployed youths.
CCIMA is a member of POETCom and focal point for the development of organic agriculture.