The increasing demand for organic products in New Caledonia motivated Louis Ate to transition to organic farming. The benefits Louis gained, however, surpassed his one motivating factor, which was economics. Louis realised with his newfound knowledge that providing and supplying healthy and quality food for his family and community was equally important; to which he is now happily doing and promoting. Along the way he learned to appreciate and maintain the health of the environment that sustains his livelihood.
“I used to have a small field and orchard,” said Louis. “I wasn’t paying much attention to waste management and we used to burn many things among the crops. Now I have stopped burning waste. I cultivate it. My field is healthier. I expanded my cultivated plots and my orchard, and I have more citrus trees that I grow under banana plants, for direct sunlight protection and drought resistance. Especially the local mandarin – that is a speciality from my region.”
Louis improved his agricultural practices through the Bio Caledonia Association and POETCom collaboration for trainings and information sharing held in 2019. He established a local Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) system in his tribe, the Konoyes-Chaoué in Kouaoua, and became the tribe’s first PGS Bio Pasifika certified organic producer. Other producers are also turning to organic farming, with two farmers now PGS certified and three others in transition.
Now enjoying the fruits of his labour, Louis further added, “I’d like more people to join the association and the PGS. To come back to farming. To respect our environment, its health and the consumer’s health. We must take care of the land bequeathed to us by our elders.”