Climate change: Vegetable gardens help communities adapt in Vanuatu

To improve food security in one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, communities in Vanuatu are being provided with training in new farming techniques and the production of climate-resilient crops.

In Vanuatu, communities are learning how to produce climate and disease-resistant crops to increase their resilience to climate change © Mark Chew

In Vanuatu, demonstration vegetable gardens are supporting crop diversification and introducing young people, and the wider community, to new farming techniques to improve food security in the face of climate change. In partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), CARE International has established demonstration gardens in 10 communities of Tafea province since May 2016. The communities have provided the land, whilst DARD has supplied a range of hybrid plants that require minimal water to flourish, and CARE has provided seeds for a range of vegetables that are better adapted to withstand the impacts of climate change.

The demonstration gardens include a nursery for small seedlings made from layers of readily available coconut husks, and an array of vegetables, including yam, taro, kumala, cabbage, beans, tomato and lettuce. Providing a wide assortment of vegetable varieties enables the community to experiment to see which will survive and thrive in their area. Once the crops have been harvested, community members are able to use seedlings, root stock and grafts from the successful varieties to diversify their own gardens.

Through Community Disaster and Climate Change Committees (CDCCCs), CARE International has also lobbied for the incorporation of climate change information to be included within school curricula and government policy in Vanuatu to increase community knowledge and understanding of the challenges. Organised in partnership with DARD and the Ministry of Education and Training, the CDCCCs have provided training to 259 community members and 273 students across Tanna and Santo provinces. The training focuses on climate-resilient agriculture, such as improved techniques for planting, production of climate and disease resistant crops, soil fertility and integrated pest management.

The CDCCC training has also covered methods to improve food security and included the provision of seedlings and information on more nutritious crop options, such as kumala, taro, cassava, muguna and glyricidia. “Attending the workshops increased my capacity to provide food and [gain] income from my garden, especially the food preservation workshop. I can use this [training] to improve my livelihood,” says May Saskias, vegetable grower and mother-of-three. In addition to attending food preservation workshops, community members are also planning ahead for inevitably low food stocks during the cyclone season by using locally-constructed solar dryers to preserve food.

Petra Bakewell-Stone

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.