Forest and Trees

Forests and trees play significant roles in the lives of Pacific Islanders, economically, socially, culturally and environmentally. In many Pacific island countries, especially on the smaller islands and atolls, agroforestry and tree crops provide most of the food, medicines, construction materials, firewood, tools and myriad of other products and services that cannot be replaced with imported substitutions. For the larger countries, forests have contributed significantly into their economic development in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment and infrastructure development. Thus, a major challenge for Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) is to ensure sustainable management of their scarce and diminishing forest and tree resources, taking into account demands for economic development and the social and environmental needs of their growing populations, LRD-SPC is addressing this under its Forest & Tree programme.

Agroforestry demo site excites Fiji’s Minister for Primary Industries
Friday, 11 April 2014 14:19

‘This is what we need for other localities in Fiji and we are fully supportive and appreciative of SPC's initiative in such activities.’

These were the sentiments of Fiji’s Minister for Primary Industries and Provincial Development Mr Inia Seruiratu when he paid a surprise visit recently to the Labasa (northern Fiji) Agroforestry Demo site, which is supported by SPC.

‘I am very impressed with this intervention and I encourage farmers in this locality to take full advantage of such a setup.’

The demonstration farm is located in Tabia, Labasa, some 21 kilometres from Labasa town. In 2013, SPC, through its Land Resources Division, took the initiative to test out various agroforestry models and trial different combinations of trees, crops and livestock. In July that year, SPC signed a memorandum of understanding with Charles McCay, a farmer\landowner of Tabia, to develop part of his 32 acres of farmland into an agroforestry demonstration area.

The goal of this project is to develop a fully integrated farming system that provides food, nutrition and income security and, at the same time, protects the soil from erosion and degradation and contributes to the conservation of indigenous tree species.

With the support of SPC, Charles McCay now has a five-year development plan for his farm and envisages that, on completion of this initiative, his farm will be a model training facility to encourage other farmers to take up this integrated farming approach.

SPC provided Charles McCay with construction materials, fencing materials, planting tools, seeds and seedlings to establish his nursery. Here, resilient varieties of sweet potato and bananas from SPC's Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees and seedlings of selected native tree species and fruit trees were raised before they were planted out.

In December 2013, SPC ran a workshop on nursery operations and management, and the production of planting materials, including plant propagation techniques. It was conducted on the demo site for Charles McCay, a group of farmers from nearby areas, representatives from NGOs and staff of the Labasa offices of the Forestry and Agriculture Department.

Immediately after the training, the development of the model farm began with the planting of selected native tree species, fruit trees, dalo and vegetable seeds provided by SPC.

‘My dream has always been to set up a fully integrated farming system under the 'forest for food’ concept and it seems that my dream is now becoming a reality with this intervention from SPC,’ said an elated Charles McCay.

‘I always believed in farming and this intervention will enable me to reach a level where I can encourage my fellow farmers, especially youths, to take it up as a profession.’

Early this month, SPC’s Cenon Padolina and Vinesh Prasad made a follow-up visit to the site to provide guidance and technical support as per the agreed development plan.

The duo assisted the farmer with planting of indigenous tree species (sandalwood, vesi and dakua) and tissue-cultured sweet potatoes and bananas, and also with the establishment of a small cocoa plantation. Turmeric was planted between the cocoa plants, a concept adopted from India, where turmeric is used to control weeds and provide extra income to the farmer while the cocoa is growing.

SPC wishes to acknowledge its strategic partners – the European Union, USAID and UNDP – for supporting this initiative.

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(For more information and media queries please contact Vinesh Prasad (+679 3370733) or SPC’s LRD helpdesk This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ).

 

We acknowledge our major donors/partners in supporting Forestry initiatives in the Pacific