Ministry’s secretary Matairangi Purea said these machines were handed out to the country’s 24 Members of Parliament between October to December as a way of helping to revitalise agriculture’s food crop production.
Purea said from the ministry’s observations and records involving taro planting for the first three months of this year, the MPs for Takuvaine, Titakimoa Avatiu, Pamati and Nikao, Panama had made a positive impact on taro patch preparation for growing taro in the three Rarotonga constituencies.
“The machinery has made quite a positive contribution to production on these three villages and it is important to monitor this, otherwise it will be like all the other assistance from other countries where we have no record of what so ever.
“We want to know whether these machines are making an impact here especially for agriculture production,” Purea said.
He said it was imperative to let island residents know that the ministry was embarking on strategies to ensure growers were making good use of the machines.
Purea said farmers in Nikao and Avatiu had begun to understand that a six horsepower rotary hoe was equal to using three manual labourers.
“The work on their taro patches has become easier with the use of these machines, creating more competition between taro growers.
“We expect that by September to December this year, there will be an increase in the supply of taro on the local market.”
Thanks to the mechanical labour provided by the machines, growers were more focused in the output of their growing efforts, he said.
“In the past when machines were donated or introduced into the island, there was no record of the output of the machines. If we do not monitor it, nobody will bother to do it and it is also good record-keeping for us.”
Purea said as the Cook Islands was also facing the challenges of labour shortages, mechanisation was becoming more accepted as a way to replace manpower, making work easier and less time-consuming for many farmers.