Hydroponics project great for Pukapuka

Monday January 16, 2017 Written by Published in Outer Islands
Hydroponics project great for Pukapuka Students on Nassau harvest lettuce and corn. 17011310

The PUKAPUKA hydroponics project has finally been completed.


Completion of the project was announced by the “Strengthening the Resilience of our Islands and our Communities to Climate Changes” (SRIC-CC) programme.

The project is running well and the popular Chinese green vegetable pok choi is starting to sprout and produce greens for island residents.

Pukapuka project manager or “focal point,” Lucky Topetai, has worked hard on the project with support from the Pukapuka community.

In early March, the pok choi should be ready to harvest. In true Pukapuka community fashion, the greens will get equally distributed among families, ensuring everyone has an equal share. “One of the good things about Pukapuka is the way the community all comes and really works together.” said Melina Tuiravaki, communications officer for the SRIC Project and the Palmerston project manager.

SRIC-CC has taken photos showing pok choi two weeks and four days old, seedlings, the community coming together to build the greenhouse, and Nassau school students finishing their third harvest of lettuce and corn.

Cucumber and tomato seedlings will be sent to Pukapuka by cargo boat soon. Manihiki also has a thriving hydroponics project growing pok choi, lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

The sandy soil of the Northern Group atolls can make growing a variety of greens a challenge. The richest soil, built up by the women over hundreds of years through composting, gets reserved for gowing taro.

Hydroponics present a welcome alternative, although the cost and reliability of importing chemicals for the water and seedlings presents its own challenges. SRIC-CC works with the Pa Enua and focuses on community-led solutions with all projects originating with the island councils and local people who serve as focal points.

Past and ongoing projects include Mangaia Young Farmers, Manihiki Hydroponics, Atiu Coconut Oil, Tongareva Turtle Habitat Conservation, Tongareva Tree Nursery, Pukapuka and Nassau Uwi Kura Fencing, Pukapuka Community Water Tanks, Nassau School Garden, Mitiaro Maroro Tu, Palmerston Worm Farm, Nassau School Garden, and Rakahanga Drainage Upgrade among others.

This project was supported by SRIC-CC Programme, Climate Change Cook Islands Division of the Office of the Prime Minister.  Funding is provided by the Adaptation Fund through United Nations Development Programme. Pukapukan nurse Retai Taikakara who is in Rarotonga on maternity leave, wrote on the Climate Change Facebook page, “It is about time we have greens…I can’t wait to go back and have some.”

            - Amelia Borofsky  

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