The M’Buke community in Manus province was fortunate to have access to new information and improved technologies on agriculture and livestock between 2011 and 2012.
Through a project funded by the PNG Sustainable Development Programme (PNSDP), improved varieties of taro, yam, sweet potato, cassava and white open pollinated corn seeds have been successfully transferred from Laloki, Central province, to M‘Buke Island, says James Earnest of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
Titled “Transfer of Improved Agricultural Technologies in M’Buke Island, Manus Province”, the project was worth K180 000 and was funded for two years.
The distribution of foundation materials and seeds to individual community members were done from a main NARI/Community multiplication garden established on the island.
The project’s aim was to enhance the livelihoods of the M’Buke people in terms of improved food security and nutrition through diversified food crop farming, acquisition of new skills and knowledge and creation of income generation opportunities from garden produce.
This is because the major food resource for M’Buke Islanders is fish. And food shortage and malnutrition have been two main issues affecting some 700 dwellers, who get their garden food and sago supplies through barter systems or markets from the mainland Manus.
Mr Earnest, a Senior Agronomist who was leading the project says M’Buke Islanders made a major harvest in July 2012 and celebrated it.
“Over 1000 tubers of African yams, 6000 local Trobriand yams, 300 sweet potatoes and 400 cassavas were harvested and displayed during the harvest celebrations,” he says.
Representatives from the Manus Provincial Government (including the current Open MP Ronnie Knight) and PNGSDP Program Manager, Lawrence Stephens attended.
Mr Earnest says he conducted three trainings/demonstrations on crop protection using plant derived pesticides and chemical control of taro in all three project sites (M’Buke, Timonai and Saehesapo) for over 100 farmers.
Another two trainings/demonstrations were done on simple food processing and preservation techniques for over 160 farmers at M’Buke and Whal islands. These techniques included the process on how to make fruit jams from locally availably fruits resources. Participants from Timonai and Saehesapo project sites congregated at Whal Island – a central place.
“Twenty nine Muscovy ducks were also supplied from NARI Laloki to project sites – Timonai and Saehesapo,” says Mr Earnest.
He also disseminated over 600 NARI Toktoks and printed information on the improved technologies, crop protection, and food processing and preservation techniques to farmers in M’Buke Island, Timonai and Saehesapo islands.
Mr Earnest says although the project ends this month, an impact assessment will be undertaken in early 2013.