|SPC supports agroforestry in Tonga|
|Tuesday, 05 August 2014 13:48|
‘I’m totally convinced by the concept of agroforestry and I want similar training for all extension officers in my ministry.’
These were the sentiments expressed by the Chief Executive Officer of Tonga’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forests and Fisheries (MAFFF), Mrs Losaline Ma’asi, who participated in a two-day (30th & 31st July) agroforestry training conducted by SPC at Hango Agricultural College in Eua, Tonga.
‘I supported this training and personally got involved, as I knew we could all benefit from it and gain knowledge and skills that could make a difference in our lives and those of the clients we serve.
‘Understanding the concepts and benefits of agroforestry can help the participants to utilise locally available food crops, tree species and livestock to develop a good farming system,’ Mrs Ma’asi explained.
She noted that agroforestry has been in use for decades and there have been trials of various systems in order to identify ones that are appropriate in different environments and locations in Tonga.
Mrs Ma’asi also mentioned that she will work very closely with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in organising similar training for MAFFF extension staff based in Tongatapu and Vava'u.
More than fifty participants, comprising final year students and teachers from Hango Agriculture College, farmers from the USAID Climate Change Pilot Project in Houma, MAFFF staff, and members of the Petani Women’s Food Security and Climate Change Project attended the training, which was conducted by two SPC staff: Cenon Padolina and Vinesh Prasad.
Established in 1968, Hango Agriculture College began by training farmers who were involved in crop and livestock farming but later it was transformed into a diploma-level agricultural institute for students who wanted to pursue a career in the agriculture sector.
The college, which is fully accredited by the University of the South Pacific, also enrols students from Vanuatu; they make up 40% of the student population.
The Sustainable Resource Management Programme of SPC's Land Resources Division has financially and technically supported the college to establish agroforestry demonstration plots on a twenty-acre site within the college area and teach students about sustainable farming systems and the skills they need for agroforestry, which is now part of the curriculum. SPC has pledged to continue its support in providing teaching assistance and practical expertise to the college.
The agroforestry training is part of the initiative entitled Enhanced Climate Change Resilience of Food Production Systems in Pacific Island Countries and Territories, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The project harnesses an innovative partnership between two SPC divisions, the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division and the Land Resources Division.
SPC and USAID, in collaboration with partner agencies, are supporting the governments of six Pacific Island countries – Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu – in their efforts to tackle the adverse effects of climate change on food production.
Photo Caption: Students of Hango College trying out vegetative propagation.