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Yapese Settlements Thrive through Climate-Smart Agriculture

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by December 16, 2016 Pacific News, Regional News

(PACAM News report)- As part of the World Food Day 2016 celebrations in Yap, Micronesia, beneficiaries of the USAID-funded Climate Adaptive Agriculture and Resilience (CAAR) project displayed and sold various produce grown in their home gardens through climate-smart agriculture techniques. [restrict]

The theme of this year’s World Food Day was “Climate is changing. Food and Agriculture must too.” Through a grant from USAID’s Pacific-American Cli-mate Fund (PACAM), the College of Micronesia-Federated States of Micronesia (COM-FSM) Yap Cam-pus is working to make four Yapese settlement communities — Makiy, Ruu, Daboch and Gargey — more resilient and able to respond to crises magnified by a changing climate.

The CAAR booths easily sold all of their vegetables during the celebration. Romina Lemaisaf, a new and active home gardener, was able to bring home $65.50 in one day from the sale. “I like planting vegetables a lot, and I now eat a lot of leafy vegetables. I also earn some money from selling vegetables,” says Lemaisaf.

Lemaisaf is one of the 39 new home gardeners from these settlements who have established vegetable gardens using climate-smart techniques imparted by COM-FSM. Many of them now regularly sell to markets fresh produce from their gardens. From July to September 2016, Lemaisaf and other project participants have made some $360 from the sale of garden produce such as lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Vegetables are both scarce and expensive on the is-lands, and for this reason, are usually missing in the regular diet of islanders which tends to be dominated by starchy staples. The result of this unhealthy diet is under nutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity, and other diet-related non-communicable diseases. Through the CAAR project, Yapese settlements now have a good source of nutrient-rich vegetables.

“Climate-smart gardening is a simple and effective adaptive strategy for the displaced atoll communities. The gardens also help improve nutrition as well as food security,” says CAAR Project Director Dr. Murukesan Krishnapillai.

One of the climate-smart practices introduced in the communities was the installment of 33 portable rain water harvest bags, commercially known as bob® rain water bags that now help the communities collect enough rainwater for domestic use as well as for gardening. These bags are a trademarked product developed by non-profit organization Relief International, which offers 350 gallons of portable water storage. Through the CAAR project, and in partnership with Water for Life Project and Relief International, a total of 39 bob bags have been installed so far across the four settlements, benefiting all the project beneficiaries’ households or an estimated 306 people. The bob bags have revolutionized rainwater harvesting in the settlements. It improves the households’ access to safe water, relieving women and children from the drudgery of fetching water. For the communities in Makiy settlement, for ex-ample, rainwater harvesting using bob bags is the only option currently available. “The bob bag brought fresh-water to my home. No need to fetch water anymore,” said Lemaisaf.

“In Yap, we have just recovered from the drought caused by the 2016 El Nino episode, which devastated traditional agriculture. It is clear that water security and food security are strongly interdependent, and by improving both as we have done here, we are building up the climate resilience of these communities,” said Dr. Krishnapillai. [/restrict]

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