The COVID-19 experience has seen more people turning to agriculture or farming. With this, it has seen the increase in land utilisation and people turning to agriculture to sustain their everyday life and put meals on the table. Farmers in the rural areas of Fiji are increasingly using the group-oriented or solesolevaki concept in their farming approaches.
With this platform, it is a good opportunity for farmer-to-farmer learning as it is happening at a comfortable and ‘horizontal’ level. Farmer-to-farmer learning is the critical part of Teitei Taveuni and it has taken this to another level in formally registering itself as a farmer organisation.
Teitei Taveuni (TTT) has been in operation since 2009 and have a total of 10 demonstration farms around Taveuni for local communities to learn and adapt soil health management and sustainable crop production strategies. The Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) team learnt various lessons from the demonstration farms;
The POLFN team of POETCom had the opportunity to conduct a PGS (participatory guarantee system) training for potential organic farmers as well as to experience and learn from TTT and their demonstration farms which showcases sustainable farming practices.
The PGS training was attended by various farmers from experienced taro, kava, coconut and vanilla farmers to those that are just starting up their own farms.
A positive outcome of the training included a list of farmers interested in PGS organic certification which will then be coordinated by an experienced organic vanilla farmer, Ms Libby Pickering. The PGS group, once established, will be responsible for the monitoring, evaluation and certification of all organic farms and production on Taveuni island.
The lessons and experiences learnt will enable POLFN to select organic demonstration farms, identify dedicated farmers who are willing to lead and share their knowledge and experiences to build local communities and above all ensure the sustainability of these organic farms and the organic farmer network. A lead example by TTT is to conduct soil testing on each of the 10 demo farms every four to five years to monitor soil health progress; the soil-test results report will then determine farm planning and management practices to address/improve soil quality.