POLFN - Enhancing agroecology in Nauru, a look back to traditional knowledge
The Kiwa Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) project team presented the Tools for Agroecological Performance Evaluation (TAPE) to local farmers and the Nauru Ministry of Environment last November. On this occasion, the participants and members of the POLFN team highlighted the similarities between ancestral agricultural practices and those used today in agroecology.
In Nauru, due to sea level rise that is increasing faster than the global average, the early and severe effects of climate change are already noticeable. More vulnerable to the effects of tidal waves and drought due to its proximity to the Equator, the island is currently experiencing a two-year drought.
In addition, Nauru has very little cropland that can be used for growing vegetables and plants, due to intensive phosphate mining in the early 1900s. This smallest republic in the South Pacific is therefore particularly in need of agricultural methods that are adapted to its climate and soil.
In response, the Kiwa Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) project team, implemented by the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and the Pacific Community - SPC, recently introduced the Tools for Agroecological Performance Evaluation (TAPE) to local farmers and the Nauru Department of Environment.
While the concept of "agroecology" seems new to Nauru farmers, they recognize similarities with their indigenous farming practices. Thanks to the new knowledge shared by the POLFN team, local farmers will be able to improve productivity, food and nutrition security, with more resilient farms.
“They introduced organic growing scientifically, but it’s an old way of farming in the Pacific, people in the Pacific used Organic long before I was born” says Mason Dick, the Kiwa POLFN In-country Coordinator for Nauru.
Mulching, multi-cropping and shifting cultivation are some examples of these practices, and whilst the role of indigenous knowledge in agriculture varies from country to country, it remains an important component of subsistence agriculture in Nauru.
“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.” explains Fuatino Fatiaki, the Agroecology and Organic Productions Officer with SPC/LRD’s Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom).