Food insecurity in Vanuatu is not primarily a case of inadequate volumes of food to feed people. In Vanuatu is more related to what can be termed “hidden hunger”, or deficiencies of vital micronutrients in people’s diets.
From ADRA-Vanuatu'd Project Brief:
This project will improve food security through the introduction of innovative agriculture practices and training based on the permaculture approach that will allow intensive vegetable cultivation in gardens within the village, using organic methods that retain soil fertility year round.
The innovative gardening approaches will build on the gardening skills of rural families, and allow them to trial new ways of growing, processing and preserving their traditional crops. The project will work directly with families in two rural communities on Malekula and Santo Islands, and one poor urban settlement community in Port Vila.
This project will use permaculture approaches to allow families to build on the integrated planting methods they are familiar with in order to cultivate complimentary food crops within their cash crops.
Key aspects of permaculture are intercropping for pest management and creation of microclimates that support the differing cultivation needs of the vegetables grown. A development opportunity that this project will be built upon is that some of the key practices of permaculture are already part of traditional Vanuatu gardening practice.
Currently the constraint is that the food gardens in Vanuatu are placed a long distance from the village, and the practice of slash/burn agriculture is depleting soil fertility to zero. Mono-cropping is another farming system practised primarily for cash crops such as coconut, cocoa, coffee and kava.
Another key aspect of the permaculture approach is the integration of livestock into the gardening system, as livestock both consume garden waste (fodder for goats or cows, or rotting vegetables for pigs), manage insect pests (chickens and ducks) and produce very fertile manure.
This project will work with the rural villagers so that they are able to integrate their livestock into their gardening practice, which will result in greater soil fertility and improved pest management. Sustainable vegetable production training will focus on seed saving, soil fertility, natural pest management, and water conservation for coastal communities with a long dry season.
Food processing and preservation techniques will also be introduced to the communities. Currently there is a high demand for this type of knowledge. This project will have a high potential for replication across Vanuatu.
In order to facilitate this the project will work with the Vanuatu Department of Agriculture and possibly a rural vocational training provider to develop curriculum materials based on the lessons learned and the approaches developed through the project activities.
These training materials will then be used to replicate the knowledge and skills so that agriculture extension workers can provide the knowledge to communities in other parts of Vanuatu, and young people at vocational training centres can obtain certificates in the permaculture approach.
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