By Elaine Vaina
| June 03, 2015
WCS is working with island communities in Manus Province to introduce and train them the gardening techniques called ‘atoll farming’.
Atoll farming is a gardening technique for islands and atolls where the soil is very sandy.
It uses techniques of composting and integration of crop residues to improve the soil water holding capacity, improve soil fertility, aeration and soil structure required for healthy crop growth.
WCS Manus’ Agriculture Officer, George Puipui conducted the training on Andra Island and finished off at Ponam Island on the 19th – 22nd May.
Mr Puipui said the concept was trialed on Kwai Island in the Soloman Islands and was successful.
He added that the techniques integrated in atoll farming basically improves soil structure and fertility for planting.
“Agriculturalists use these technique in organic farming”, said Puipui.
The farming technique involves three important steps: firstly, the preparation of the compost; secondly, once the compost is ready the plots are prepared by mixing the compost into the sandy soil; and thirdly the mixture of compost and sandy soil is left to settle for two-three days before the seeds are sowed and cuttings are planted.
Mr Puipui further explained that the compost must be left in the soil for a few days because during that period it decomposes and adds organic matter to the soil, releasing macro and micro nutrients that are essential for crop growth.
The farming technique would equip the islanders with organic farming knowledge which is new to them since they are fishermen and women.
It would help them to produce their own crops to supplement their fish and sago diet.
These activities are part of WCS’s work with island communities to equip them with knowledge and skills that would enable them to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The effects of climate change include changing weather patterns and increased risk of plant pests and diseases that threatens food security and livelihoods in vulnerable areas. By increasing the range of crops grown and improving gardening techniques WCS aims to increase the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change.
The training undertaken by WCS is in partnership with technical support from the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
NARI has also partnered with WCS in delivering training on drought resilient crops with partner island communities in New Ireland Province.
These activities were made possible with financial assistance from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).