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The FO4ACP Fiji Farmer Organisations Platform Meeting was attended by PIFON’s Fiji members
Deforestation remains a serious issue in Taveuni where unsustainable land use has seen a sharp decline in soil fertility and crop yields.
Alan Petersen, the chairman of Tei Tei Taveuni says it has forced farmers to farm more sustainably and has seen the formation of the farmer organisation – that was almost eleven years ago.
“Most of us in Taveuni plant dalo and it’s one of the leading causes of deforestation because farmers were cutting down trees to plant dalo.”
“We forget that the basics of our existence is the soil, once we lose it – we’ve got nothing. There has to be other ways of farming, rather than cutting down forests to find new soils.”
Alan Petersen made the comments at the Fiji Farmer Organisation Platform Meeting earlier today: “Over the years we’ve been working with the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network on this issue and we’ve found that it’s hard to get farmers to change their ways.”
“We have a program where we imported a very good soil fertilizer but farmers are still using chemical fertilizers – NPK which we can see ruins the soil.”
However challenging, Alan Petersen says farmers are also slowly realising the importance of protecting the soil.
“They’re starting to appreciate that they need to protect the soil and we’ve been proactive about it through our community programs of which 16 model farms were implemented without funding.”
“Today we embrace sustainable farming and our previous experience gives our members the confidence to advocate for sustainable agricultural practices and soils.”
“Last year in 2019, a project funded by FO4ACP saw the construction of 10 greenhouses around the island for farmers to produce trees.”
“When farmers start planting kava for instance, they plant in shady areas but as the plants grow big, they need more sunshine – what we’re promoting now is, when you plant kava, also plant your trees so that when you harvest the kava or whatever you’ve planted after 3 or 4 years, you have trees for your next generation.”
Today’s platform meeting was organized by Tei Tei Taveuni and is funded by the the Farmers’ Organizations for Africa, Caribbean and Pacific – FO4ACP Programme, a joint partnership between the European Union, Africa Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON).