Navotua women celebrate Fiji National Climate Week
Vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots, eggplants, long beans, capsicums to fruits such as watermelons were planted.
The food security initiative is part of WWF-Pacific’s ‘Strengthening Governance and Resource Management for Climate Resilient Communities’ and ‘Building the Resilience of the Pacific through Disaster Preparedness’ projects that are funded by USAID and the Government of Australia respectively.
WWF-Pacific climate change support officer, Apolosa Robaigau said the activities are in line with the Fiji National Climate Carbon Fasting theme of agriculture and food security.
“These vegetable gardens can provide a healthier and nutritious diet for the community promoting healthier and eating habit lifestyles. There are a lot of processed foods that communities are eating which has a high carbon footprint and low nutritious value compared to the locally sourced food from the farms and the sea and money spent on processed foods can be spent on other family needs,” said Robaigau.
With rural women, the main providers of food for their families, the vegetable gardens for the women of Navotua is expected to address the issue of food security, especially during times of natural disasters.
“With the vegetable seeds, I am able to provide a healthier diet for my family, the vegetables I have harvested have been used in our daily meals, so my vegetable garden has benefited my family,” added Torika Cakause.
The Navotua Primary School was also part of the initiative, allocating the afternoon for set up of the schools vegetable garden.
“We have wanted to set up our own garden and we finally have and we just have to look after the seedlings well so that we can enjoy the vegetables when they are ready for harvest.”
“The vegetables will give the children a balanced diet and it’s good because these are the types of vegetables they learn in the classroom as well,” added Navotua Primary School teacher, Sakuisa Bavou.
Given the dry spell faced by villagers at Nacula district, maintaining these vegetable gardens has been a challenge.
“Climate change has made farming our vegetables a bit harder, now we cannot spend that much time out working on our vegetable gardens and also we have to water our vegetable gardens more often,” highlighted Nacula villager, Laite Natasiwai.
“With the heat, we have been experiencing and the limited water supply from our boreholes in Nacula, we just try to adjust and make do with the challenges. I think the first few months of the year is better as the weather is a bit cooler and it shows when we harvest a lot of vegetables as they grow well,” added Nacula villager, Amelia Drodro.
“The change in weather patterns has already started to affect my vegetable garden, it is hotter than before and now we have to water our vegetables quite often,” said Milakere Lewatu.
“It is now hotter than before and this has impacted our food here in Navotua,even some vegetables when they are ready to be harvested are a bit soft,” said Matelita Ratu.
For Nacula villager, Perina Cumu, the challenges faced have not deterred her from maintaining a vegetable garden.
“I have been facing a lot of problems regarding my vegetable garden, these past few months it has been quite hot and water is scarce so mending our gardens is quite a challenge but we do what we can in terms of providing natural shade and watering our gardens when we can.”
“But we are grateful for the seedlings provided and the setting up of extra plots that were planted. We have to continuously up keep it so that we can enjoy these vegetables,” said Nacula villager, Perina Cumu.
The food security initiative is also part of WWF-Pacific’s contribution to the Fiji National Climate Week Carbon Fasting objective of uniting, educating and mobilizing Fijians to reduce Fiji’s national carbon footprint through one week of carbon fasting.