At the dawn of the millennium, the push for organic farming is finding its way back to the Pacific through Agroecology and Regenerative Agriculture. After decades of grappling with rising Non-Communicable Diseases, Climate Change and cost of living, organic farming is the new and old solution to Pacific Island problems.
In Nauru, more than 10,000 people are expected to feel early and severe impacts of Climate change due to the rising sea-level rise increasing at a faster rate than the global average. Nauru has a high vulnerability to drought due to its proximity to the equator, evident in the fact that Nauru is currently experiencing a two year drought. With its lower elevation Nauru long-term sea-level rise and tidal surges threatens coastal livelihoods and infrastructure which in turn lowers it resilience to Climate Change. Additionally, Nauru only has 20% land that can be used for farming vegetables and crops due to the intense phosphate farming in the early 1900’s. This has made Nauru especially desperate for farming methods suitable to their climate and soil context.
The Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) Project team under the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) with The Pacific Community – SPC recently conducted training on Agroecology which uses practices that build primarily on local knowledge and time-tested agricultural approaches. This essentially results in enhanced productivity, food and nutrition security, food sovereignty, biodiversity, resilient farms and preservation of the environment. The POLFN team recognizes that indigenous farming practices plays a major role in national level development processes. At the local level, farmers can see similarities between indigenous farming practices and organic or agroecology through its practices
Mulching, intercropping, green manuring, composting and shifting cultivation examples of such agroecological practices. Whilst the role of indigenous knowledge in agriculture varies from country to country, it remains an important component of subsistence agriculture in Nauru.
“They introduce organic scientifically, but it’s an old way of growing in the Pacific, people in the Pacific use Organic long before I was born, it’s not new” says Mason Dick, the Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) Country Coordinator for Nauru.
The team also introduced the Tools for Agroecological Performance Evaluation (TAPE) with local farmers and the Nauru Department of Environment in November this year. Participants were introduced to the concept and practices of Agroecology, as well as the electronic tool (KOBO Tool) used to measure Agroecology practices in a farm. Mr Bern Dowouw shared that although ‘Agroecology’ is a relatively new term for local farmers, they were able to grasp the concept and practical implementation of the tool, as they found that some Agroecological methods are the same indigenous farming knowledge and practices passed down from their elders. Participants included staff members of the Nauru’s Department of Environment and local farmers.
“The purpose of the training is to allow farmers and agricultural extension staff to assess and monitor the performance of kitchen gardens and farms. In Nauru, the focus of agroecological development is to encourage more kitchen gardens, agroforestry and regrowing indigenous trees to rehabilitate the soil. The ultimate goal is to improve people’s health and enhance food security for Nauru.” – Fuatino Fatiaki, the Agroecology and Organic Productions Officer with LRD’s Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom).
The POLFN Project is supported by the Kiwa Initiative, which is a multi-donor program that aims to build resilience to climate change through Nature-based Solutions. A network of Organic Learning Farms (OLFs) that become learning centres for best organic and agroecological production methods will be established in Nauru and fertilized to foster sharing of knowledge, planting materials and successes.
This Kiwa Initiative is funded by the European Union, AFD – Agence Française de Développement, Canada’s International Development – Global Affairs Canada, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and in partnership with Pacific-Community-SPC Secretariat of the Pacific, Regional Environment Programme – SPREP and IUCN Oceania
Communications Assistant POETCom – Vilimaina Tamata | email@example.com