Root crop plot, West Ambrym

Root crop plot, West Ambrym

Richard Butler | RNZ | May 31st, 2019

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) is currently establishing multiplication plots of vegetables, forestry trees, kava and sourcing planting materials of improved hybrid of root crops like kumala and manioc from Port Vila through its Assistant Agriculture Officers (AAOs) on the island of Ambrym.

Multiplication plots of vegetables and demonstration plots of root crops are established on four sites namely South East Ambrym, West Ambrym (Craig Cove and Lalinda), and Ranon, North Ambrym.

It is a World Bank funded project to assist local communities maintain food security. The project has supported these community sites by donating nursery materials, vegetable seeds and water tanks for irrigation system.

The vegetables seeds include spring onion, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, English cabbage, tomatoes, carrot and capsicum.

The island of Ambrym is famously known for its active volcano Mount Benbow and Mount Marum.

The island is heavily affected by the impacts of natural disasters like volcano and earthquake.

Agricultural products are greatly impacted by ash falls. Food security is essential as communities need healthy foods to survive.

Willie Ben Temart, Assistant Agriculture Officer for Craig Cove West Ambrym said the main purpose of these multiplication plots and root crops demonstration plots is to ensure farmers have easy access to planting materials at their doorstep.

“Often during disasters when planting materials are requested the process of transportation from Port Vila or Santo via sea transport, causes planting materials in bad condition before reaching destination,” he said.

“These multiplication plots and demonstration plots are established to ensure planting materials are readily available when people need them in times of disaster”.

The activities at the project sites are progressing well and soon to be completed before a monitoring and evaluation exercise can be undertaken.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) will be launching the projects in June this year.

AAO Temart said the seedlings will be on sale to interested farmers after the launching.

“The funds raised from the sale of seedlings will provide financial support to the communities where the project sites are located to ensure sustainability of the nurseries and for the communities to take ownership of the project.

“A vegetable seedling tray will be Vt200 and kava seedlings and sandalwood seedlings will be Vt200.

“As soon as root crops are ready for harvest, the planting materials will be distributed to farmers”.

Mr. Temart stated that the people of Ambrym are thankful that the World Bank have assisted them through this project implemented by the Department of Agriculture through its AAOs to establish these multiplication plots and root crop demonstration plots.