Rising as resilient and sustainable farmers with efforts and opportunitiesDec 16, 2015
Looking over the farm, which she recently cleared after harvests of eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers, corns, and other vegetables several times this year, Faimun Nisha reflected how she and her group members have gone through some challenging moments and braved the sun and rain to get to where they are now.
Some areas in Fiji’s Western Division are prone to both flooding and dry spells. After the twin floods in early 2012 and again by tropical Cyclone Evan that hit the country in December 2012, families and communities were in constant struggle recovering from the damages to their livelihoods. The weather and terrestrial conditions require additional hard work to manage their farms.
“It was very difficult. Our family had to struggle to make ends meet. But now, we don’t have to buy vegetables because we always have some vegetables from our farm. We also have cash in hand from selling vegetables. We can use it for medication or school expenses for our children,” said Ms Nisha.
Talaiya Multi-racial Women’s Group in Ba is one of the successful examples of 38 groups participated in the project, Enhancing Livelihood Recovery through Improving Food Security in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters in Fiji, which aims to assist communities sustain their livelihoods and build their resilience in case of natural disasters through engaging in farming ventures and increasing food security.
The project has been implemented by the United Nations Development programme (UNDP) in partnership with Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, and the National Disaster Management Office.
Patrick Tuimalealiifano, UNDP Project Manager, said, “the project is helping some of the most vulnerable communities in the Western Division to better cope with the impacts of climate change by adopting climate resilient farming practices, this is crucial in terms of sustaining food security and small scale income generation as the frequency of flooding has increased over recent decades.”
“Initially the project was supporting these communities to recover from the severe flooding in 2012 due to cyclone Evans and now the project is supporting communities to cope with the very dry conditions as a result of current El Nino phenomenon”, said Mr Tuimalealiifano.
Since 2013, community members have undertaken community resource mapping and farm planning, as well as learned farming skills and basic financial management skills. Seeds and seedlings, materials for nursery and other agricultural equipment were also distributed by the Ministry of Agriculture.
“We are lucky to have this support from the Ministry of Agriculture and UNDP. We are proud of ourselves for making the most of the support and managing our group farming project”, Ms Nisha explained.
The Ministry also conducted awareness on the impacts of climate change and importance of disaster risk reduction and risk management.
“We had so much loss on the farm before. We did not know the right time to plant and water. We did not know what to do when the plants were infested. Because of the training and advice provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and UNDP, we are now knowledgeable when to plant, how to use fertilizer and control pest. We also learned how to preserve the seeds and plant them again so to recover from floods.”
This project supports the Government of Fiji’s Humanitarian Action Plan prepared after Cyclone Evan and supports the rehabilitation plan outlined in the Post Disaster Needs Assessment. It identified the need to strengthen the area of food security and support the re-establishment of livelihoods for communities that continue to suffer extensive damages after a natural disaster.
To strengthen sustainability of the community farming undertaken by the groups, water tanks and pumps were provided to 10 groups who have been in constant efforts in developing their farms since the project started.
Ms Nisha added, “With the water tank and pipes from the river, we don’t have to worry about the dry season. The group decided to invest in a sprinkler so that our women will not have to carry water, which is very hard work.”
“We are farmers. We can say so now that we know and have been managing all those matters on the farm.”
The Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted by more than 150 world leaders at the United Nations this September, particularly Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; and Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, emphasize the importance of increasing resilience of people, particularly those who are vulnerable to climate change, extreme weather events and other economic, social and environmental shocks through securing access to land, knowledge and economic and natural resources among others.
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Communications and Advocacy Officer, UNDP, tel: 3312500; 9422193, email: firstname.lastname@example.org