A.d.r.a. Community Disaster Management and Livelihood Development Project

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ENHANCING FOOD SECURITY AND LIVELIHOODS: Developing alternative farming systems and crops in Samoa under the N.A.P.A.

ENHANCING FOOD SECURITY AND LIVELIHOODS: Developing alternative farming systems and crops in Samoa under the N.A.P.A.

LIVELIHOOD COMPONENT TRAINING REPORT

In September 2015 the Adventist Development and Relief Agency - Samoa Trust (A.D.R.A./Samoa) was awarded a grant funded by the US Agency for International Development through its Pacific American Climate Fund (P.A.C.A.M.) to address climate related impacts in Samoa. This includes a component on livelihoods and food security. 

Unstable and inconsistent food production caused by climate change has affected many Samoan farmers capacity for self-sufficiency, not to mention their ability to generate income from their crops. Perhaps the most devastating effect of natural disasters in Samoa is the damage wrought on agricultural production and consequently the sector’s capacity to supply domestic demand.

This translates directly to food insecurity at the household level where gardens play an important role in nutrition and, in some cases, to family income generation through selling of crops or avoided purchasing costs. 

Samoa’s National Adaptation Programme of Action (N.A.P.A.) 2005 identified urgent and immediate needs with respect to adaptation, focusing particularly on increasing food security and livelihoods.

‘By investing in stable all year round crops and vegetable farming programs instigated at the community level, Samoa will be better able to adapt and afford crops in times of extreme climatic events.’ (N.A.P.A., p39, par 4).

Developing alternative farming systems and crops are an integral component of enhancing food security and livelihoods in Samoa under the N.A.P.A. This project seeks to directly improve the variety of resistant crops and vegetable farming available, improve the management of village plantations as well as ensure sustainable security of food regardless of weather conditions. 

The dependence of village communities on agricultural production both for subsistent means as well as income generation is a concern and a priority in terms of addressing the adaptation needs of Samoan communities.

The overall objective of the ‘’livelihoods” component of this U.S.A.I.D./P.A.C.A.M. funded project is to increase the adaptive capacity of villages through the diversification of their livelihoods. Moreover, this project seeks to offer additional benefits to village households by facilitating the transition from subsistence farming to small-scale commercial production for local markets that can generate income for these families.

A.D.R.A. hopes introduce several alternative crops in targeted villages. The objective of the project is to introduce crops less susceptible to adverse weather conditions such as cyclones, heavy rainsand flooding and drought as a result of climate change stressors. Three activities have been identified as having a very viable domestic as well as commercial value; more efficient fishing , vegetable/herb farming and seaweed farming. 

Fishing has long benefited village communities both as a form of subsistent farming as well as for market sales. The M.A.F. has already outlined fish farming activities as a great form of sustainable use of marine resources and beneficial in areas where shoreline is rugged making large-scale fishing difficult. 

Under the original grant proposal, A.D.R.A. envisioned that villages would elect special committees who would allocate persons to take turns in maintaining and feeding fish caught in fish catchment areas and after harvesting, profits would be shared among the village population.

However, after the A.D.R.A./P.A.C.A.M. project was initiated MAF informed ADRA that this approach is discouraged in Samoa due to damage to corals and other near-shore marine life. Traditional round traps of bamboo or wire are illegal in Samoa. This is a major change in the plans for engaging fishing communities and requires A.D.R.A. to rethink its training approach.

It also has implications for the marketing component as originally conceived in the grant proposal/agreement. Fishing with nets is often unpredictable in terms of the amount of catch. Initial discussion with villagers using the nets revealed relatively low rates of catch per unit effort. 

As a result, use of nets is lower than originally anticipated even though contracts were signed between and village groups (atinae) around using the fishing nets. Currently, it is estimated that 30% of A.D.R.A.’s target population are involved in fisheries.

This means that the expectation that all 600 targeted beneficiaries experiencing a 20% increase in income may need to be adjusted. As represented in this training report, A.D.R.A. has already adapted its training approach to take this into consideration. Additional adaptation of training modules and approaches will be incorporated into all future fisheries related training.

The other food crops offer an alternative crop with the goal of diversifying the livelihoods of village communities. Fishing and agricultural production are traditional forms of farming in most village communities.  Seaweed farming and vegetable/herb farming offer viable alternatives to these traditional crops thereby also increasing food security.

An additional co-benefit, and a key element of this project, is the concept behind this component of empowering village communities to become sustainable both now and in the future. By creating income-generating activities, A.D.R.A. seeks to sustain these activities by arming these communities with the necessary skills to do so.

The goal of the income generation component of the project is relatively simple and greatly beneficial if achieved. 

However, getting all 600 households targeted for implementation to increase their income by 20% from A.D.R.A. supported activities is difficult to achieve. Moreover, expected 60% of these households to acquire the necessary financial and management skills to maintain and sustain their income-generating activities in the intermediate and long-term future may also be difficult based on experience in other livelihood development projects in Samoa and globally.

High value crops will also be introduced that represent good income opportunities for village households but the targets set in the original grant agreement and work plan may need to be adjusted. 

A.D.R.A. will be examining the need to adjust these and related indicators in the coming quarter based on additional field trips and community consultations.

Vegetables/Herbs

Chilli is strongly recommended as there is a big demand with the very popular Samoan Chilli Sauce being produced in Samoa. Consultations with beneficiaries during the last week of July will include discussions on the schedule for starting chilli farming.

Additional high value products like turmeric and sweet potato will also be discussed in the same consultations. Approximately 91% of hotels and 97% of restaurants and supermarkets have already indicated they would purchaselocally produced vegetables if available all year round. Root crops such as Cassava, SweetPotato, and Yams will be included especially for their resilience to climate change. 

The proposed activities in this output are innovative for A.D.R.A., and the Samoan communities (in terms of N.G.O.s community support). A.D.R.A. intends to introduce these crops through the atinae formed with A.D.R.A./P.A.C.A.M. project support. Then, income generated by the mutually maintained farms will be shared among atinae members.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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