Traditional Knowledge on Agriculture Farming Practices in Vanuatu

Earlier this year the Vanuatu Daily Post ran article about a team from the Vanuatu Klaemet Infomesen blong Redy, Adapt mo Protekt (Van– KIRAP) have conducted traditional knowledge (TK) surveys on agriculture on the islands of Epi, Santo and Vanua Lava. Over 40 farmers were interviewed.

Van– KIRAP Agriculture Sector Coordinator, Pakoa Leo, said the TK survey on agriculture targeted mainly community chiefs and farmers who have traditional knowledge passed on from generation to generation in relation to traditional way of farming.

“The aim of the survey is to identify and select key farmers with available land and willingness to participate in the Agriculture/ Climate Case study, conduct agriculture TK survey and document the results and select crops and land preparation and the establishment of the demonstration plots on case study sites,” Leo said.

“The purpose of the survey is to collect information on planting times, harvesting methods, storage methods and pests and diseases control methods.

“With the Climate Change impacts on the agriculture sector, we need to incorporate science and traditional knowledge to mitigate Climate Change issues.” Mr. Leo added, “The integration of science and traditional knowledge is to ensure if either of these knowledges are effective and could be applied to adapt with the impacts of Climate Change on agriculture especially pest and diseases that are affecting agriculture crops.


Port Vila Market, Port Vila, Vanuatu, photo by ICAS

“A good example is taro beetle. Taro beetle is a pest that affect mostly taros throughout Vanuatu and this is a huge challenge for the farmers. The farmers need to know how to control such pest to ensure healthy products are exported to overseas market as the government is investing more funds on root crop export.

“The TK survey on agriculture has captured a lot of invaluable information on how to control such pest as taro beetle using traditional methods.” The Van-KIRAP agriculture sector coordinator said after the survey on each site, trial plots of crops were established at the Tagabe agriculture farm and at the Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Technical Centre to assess some of the traditional techniques and methods used by our ancestors.

“The farmers were interviewed for specific crops depending on what type of crops are mostly grown in their areas.

“The results of these trials will verify whether the information collected during the survey on traditional knowledge on farming is feasible or not.

“The outcomes of TK that are effective will also contribute to a product developed under the Van-KIRAP project called ‘Vanuatu Agro- Met Bulletin’ which is produced monthly especially for local farmers.

“Once the results are obtained from the trials and are validated, these important information’s will be assimilated into this product for farmers to access and make good use of the information on farming practices.

“The information will also be merged into an application that the project is currently developing for farmers to use call ‘Vanuatu Agriculture Climate Services’.

“The trial plots contain all the different traditional farming practices from survey sites on different crops. The results and information derive from these trials will benefit our farmers.”

About 20 farmers in Sola, Vanua Lava, were interviewed to collect information related to traditional knowledge and agriculture. Demonstration plots were established at the farmer’s garden with different crops such as banana, Fiji taro, island taro, cassava and island cabbages. The demonstration plot is about 50m x 20m length.

Planting materials were sourced from different farmers and were planted in the demonstration plot.

A field day will be organized this year 2022 to surrounding farmers to demonstrate the use of climate information.

Mr. Leo and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) officers in Vanua Lava will be working collaboratively to ensure effective implementation of the activities on site.

The DARD through Van-KIRAP project will be working with the farmers to ensure climate information services is delivered and absorb by farmers to improve production and reduce climate related risk. Agriculture and climate information can be sourced by farmers in Sola at the climate center.

“The islands selected are Van-KIRAP project sites,” Leo added. “A team will be deployed to Tanna, Erromango and Malekula this year to conduct similar survey on traditional knowledge on farming practices.


Mele Cascades, Efate Island, Vanuatu, photo by ICAS

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