A training to increase agricultural productivity and income of market-vendors is helping many who are both farmers and market vendors. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture is using the training to broaden market vendor-farmers’ knowledge and awareness on how and what effect climate change can have on their farms and ways in which it can be mitigated. Through the training farmers are adopting simple climate resilient techniques and developing skills in farm management and business management to help them make better farming decisions.
Mere Kuila grows varieties of vegetables on a few plots in her village located in the Nausori Highland. Her farm has been slowly recovering from the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston that devastated the Fiji Islands early this year, but the soil is not so fertile and hence she is keen to learn the new climate smart farming techniques.
Every Saturday early morning, she takes her harvest to the Nadi market along the steep and scenic Sabeto hill road. Similarly, many of her fellow women are part time market vendors selling their own produce. Vendor-farmers have been coping with the extreme weather events and its adverse impact on their farm productivity and income from selling their produce.
Fifty-seven villagers from Nausori Highland learned the role of farmers in the supply chain contributing to food security, and key farming and marketing strategy such as planning, budgeting and record keeping. They also learned soil management and plant nutrients, which farmers can apply in their daily farming practice. They will receive another training on pests, diseases, weed management, harvest and post-harvest handling and marketing. Participants who have learned these topics will be awarded a Certificate of Participation.
“In the past I mostly used chemical fertilizers on my farm but today I learned that organic fertilizers like chicken manure are good for the soil and crops. So, I learned more from the training,” Kuila said.
So far, 18 training sessions have been conducted in villages and market places across Fiji since earlier this year and a total of 570 women and men have benefitted through this training.
Wilfred James, used to be a carpenter by profession and now a market vendor along with his wife who has been in the farming and market business for a long time is implementing good practices he learned from the training in Nadi.
He said, “Organic fertilizers worked better on my farm. I also implement mulching; I do not weed during dry season so the soil keeps moisture under the grass. I do keep records of my expenses and income every day.”
Akuila Tuvola, Extension Officer, Ministry of Agriculture who conducted the training said, “With increasing environmental pressures and economic hardship, farmers need to practice climate smart farming taking advantage of modern development in agribusiness and agricultural technologies. This will help to reduce impacts of climate change, farm costs and improve farm incomes.”
Increasing Agricultural Productivity and Income of Market Vendor-Farmers programme is implemented in Fiji, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands by UNDP in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Local Government, Solomon Island’s Kastom Gaden Association, Vanuatu’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and UN Women, as part of the Markets for Change project.
The Markets for Change project is a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. A UN Women project, Markets for Change is implemented in partnership with UNDP and supported by the Australian Government.