Farmers on Fiji’s Taveuni island are set to broaden and deepen their soil knowledge and skills to contribute to long-running regional efforts to support food production, healthy ecosystems, and climate change mitigation.
A three-day training held from 15-17 March on Fiji’s third largest island aims to raise awareness of the importance of sustainable soil management to improve soil fertility. The training from SPC’s Land Resources Division (LRD) is also supported by the Australia Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
In Fiji, traditional gardening systems have intensified, leading to soil nutrient depletion. For Taveuni, taro production intensification since 1990 has also resulted in a significant decline in nutrients from the soil system.
ACIAR Research Programme Manager for Soil and Land Management, Dr James Quilty, said the fertility decline, in combination with soil organic nitrogen and carbon loss, lack of rotation, pests and diseases, and other agronomic issues have all caused a fall in productivity.
“This project is helping Taveuni farmers to understand and appreciate the importance of organic matter and nutrient inputs, especially Potassium, for taro production,” said Dr Quilty. “But soil knowledge is still a constraint on sustainable intensification and agriculture resilience.”
SPC’s Land Resources Division Programme Leader for Sustainable Agriculture, Mr Gibson Susumu, stated that soil health is a vital, but not well-recognised component of agricultural systems used by traditional and large-scale farmers that have intensified their production in a relatively short period of time.
'It must be considered the foundation of productive, sustainable agriculture,” said Susumu. “Through the Land Resources Division, SPC has worked closely with ACIAR to train in-country staff from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, and Tuvalu to revitalise our farmers' knowledge of soil health management.”
Participants included subsistence and commercial farmers, taro exporters, and Fiji Ministry of Agriculture extension officers.
Training topics focused on sustainable soil management, the importance of good nutrient management, soil testing for available nutrients, and diagnosing plant nutritional disorders.
Matilda Simons, Communications Assistant, Land Resources Division, Pacific Community (SPC) | [email protected] or (679) 3370733
The Pacific Community (SPC) is an international development organization gathering 26 Member Countries and Territories. SPC harnesses science, knowledge and innovation for sustainable development, benefiting Pacific people, since 1947.
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