Support for farmers priority for Agriculture Ministry

Monday 25 January 2021 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National

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Support for farmers priority for Agriculture Ministry
Local farmers harvest bok choy (Chinse cabbage) in Rarotonga. Picture: Ministry of Agriculture/19111710

Ministry of Agriculture says they are in a good position to continue to actively support farmers this year in a number of areas.

Secretary of Agriculture Temarama Anguna-Kamana said through the financial support of the government, including regional and global partners they are able to support farmers in areas of fruit and vegetable seedling supplies, farm input supplies and the provision of technical advice to farming community at all levels.

“The ministry will actively support the Pa Enua with their crop production programs and marketing of fresh produce,” she said.  

Anguna-Kamana said the ministry has a regular programme to assist farmers with the supply of ready-to-plant fruit and vegetables seedlings from their nurseries to both commercial farmers and home gardeners.

She said during the last six months, the ministry distributed more than 158,000 vegetable seedlings of 18 different vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicum, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, watermelon, corn, lettuce to name a few) to over 40 commercial full and part-time farmers.

She said seedlings were also distributed to home gardeners.

“The ministry also supported farmers through the supply of fruit tree seedlings to both commercial and home gardeners.

 “The ministry will continue to provide such support to commercial farmers and home gardeners throughout 2021 and beyond, including the supply of vegetable seeds, fertilisers and selected farm inputs to assist the farming community of Rarotonga and the Pa Enua.”

Along with other suppliers, the ministry continues to promote the use of organic and low toxicity pesticides for insect management.

They would continue to advocate to farmers the importance of sustainable farming and sustainable soil management practices through preventing the removal of vegetation or soil cover, composting, use of green manure crops and maintaining grass strips to prevent soil loss during periods of heavy rain.

“This is a crucial first step towards improving our crop production by having more healthy soils and to assist farmers better adapt to changing climatic conditions. Such practices help with reducing the need to use certain pesticides and in-organic fertilizers for crop management through the improvement of soil health, whilst at the same time, increasing the water holding capacity,” Anguna-Kamana said.

With the UN General Assembly choosing 2021, as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, Anguna-Kamana said this has much significance for the Cook Islands.

“Especially as we strive to address the rising incidences of non-communicable diseases in our country through enhanced public-private sector collaboration.”

She said the ministry has and will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to help with the promotion of fruits and vegetables in the schools on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua through their school gardening and nutrition programs.