The traditional practice of planting local food crops is being revived in Abemama, in an effort to raise the profile of food security in the context of climate change.
Abemama is one of three islands in Kiribati which the UN Development Program – Global Environment Facility funded project, LDCF I has a range of activities targetting climate change resilience and less dependence on imported food.
In May, the project management team visited Abemama to speak to beneficiaries and project extension officers to receive feedback on the activities since it was launched last October.
The team visited twenty-two households from Baretoa, Tanimainuku and Reina and five schools on the island (Barebutanna Primary, Te Tongo Primary, Kauma High School, Alfred Sadd Memorial and Barebutanne JSS) where gardening had been initiated.
Due to limited time, the fourth village which had completed its community-based mangrove management plan (CBMMP) and Abatiku plus the first five villages from the north were not visited.
From the tour, it was found that despite the limited progress (quantitative coverage) of each village, being far from the project targets there are still benefits of the project which include the skills acquired by planting food crops, trees and plants such as coconut, breadfruit, babai, pandanus, fig tree, banana, pawpaw, cassava, taro. They also acquired skills on how to cook vegetables.
Farmer, Teebwa Tiare – Tekinaiti, says she is now practicing and sharing lessons learnt with other village members who still find difficulties with growing exotic crops like cassava and taro.
Another farmer from Baretoa says Rui “I now have a healthy diet and have stopped taking my diabetic medicine. I also teach my children how to depend on food prepared from the garden rather than imported food. They are now less dependent on imported goods such as rice and canned food”
“The garden crops can sustain us during storms when it is not easy to catch fish” he added.
Initial feedback from the twenty-two households surveyed indicate a gradual decline on the dependence on imported food leading to financial savings. The revival of traditional communal team work, known as te karoronga has also started with some households in Reina community where they’ve dug new pits for babai crops, after attending the project practical training on traditional plants. Household members take turn to assist one another to tackle difficult tasks like digging in to the water table.
However, there have been challenges, such as lack of proper gardening tools, unavailability of seedlings, lack of pest management skills, dogs and pigs eating the plants, mouse eating the coconut, some of the coconut trees not yielding fruit, and other cultural belief, still needed to resolve the pests and other exotic plants (cassava and taro) difficult to thrive on coral.
Similar monitoring visits will be undertaken to the other two pilot islands Maiana and Nonouti in the coming months.
The visit to Abemama was supported by the Kiribati LDCF I Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), managed by the UNDP and implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agricultural Development (MELAD) through the Environment and Conservation Division (ECD).
For further information Contact
Bweneata Kaoti (Ms)
Project Advocacy Officer – PAO; Project Management Unit – PMU
Environment and Conservation Division, MELAD, 75228211,75228000,