A three year project aimed at rallying youth back into agriculture production to build climate resilience in the sector with the use of climate smart farming strategies has been launched in Niue.
The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) funded Capacity Building for Resilient Agriculture in the Pacific is coordinated by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) housed within the Secretariat of the Pacific Community in partnership with the Niue Island Organic Farmers Association.
The main goal of the project that will also be implemented in the Republic of Marshall Islands and Cook Islands is that farmers in small Pacific island countries are using agricultural practices that are resilient to climate change and other natural hazards.
Association chairperson Honourable Fisa Pihigia said the project is exciting because it will directly engage youths to take up their farming inheritance.
He added the project is starting on a strong note coinciding with celebrations for International Youth Day.
“Niue is a country of generational farmers since days of old but now more youth are opting not to take up this inheritance and have either moved overseas or choosing white collar jobs,” Honorable Pihigia said.
“NIUE’s farming landscape now suffers from an aging population and the chronic absence of youth to take up the reins of agricultural food production.”
The owner of a large farm in the northern village of Tuapa, Honorable Pihigia farms a diverse range of crops that include taro, bananas, yams, sweet potato, cassava, limes and watermelons sustaining local demand for food and nutritional security.
“But unless youths are willing to take up farming, we will not be able to sustain local needs for food and nutritional security,” he said.
Youths are the hope for building future food security that now faces the added challenge of climate havocs but first we must engage them.”
Through the project young people, working with seasoned farmers and technical expertise provided by POETCom will be equipped with skills and knowledge of better farming practices.
POETCom Organic Systems Extension Officer Stephen Hazelman said the project will identify and work with producers group especially of young men and women focussing on organic production techniques.
“The support will be intended to allow farmers to approach agricultural production in ways that will provide them with resilience to climate change and natural hazards,” Mr Hazelman said.
“Resilient organic agricultural methods will be taught as a means to secure both income and increased food supply.”
“With a view towards sustaining the benefits that the project is designed to generate, the project will take a training of trainers approach, matched by teaching and learning from farmer-to-farmer within producer organisations, drawing from farmer field school methods and using mentoring and exchange visits as tools for learning.
The IFAD Capacity Building for Resilient Agriculture in the Pacific aims to engage at least 600 young farmers over a three year period with focal points in organic agriculture in Niue, Marshall Islands and Cook Islands.