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Agriculture activity largely for home use

Thursday 23 February 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Local, National, Outer Islands

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Agriculture activity largely for home use
An outer island farmer at her taro plantation in 2020. Photo: CLIMATE CHANGE COOK ISLANDS/22072035

Agriculture is still largely done for home use, according to the latest Census results.

The recently-released Census 2021 says that of those surveyed, at least 70 per cent of all households in the Cook Islands were engaged in one or more type of agricultural activity. 

“Of those that were engaged, the majority, 44.2 per cent were growing flowers and ornamental plants and 43.8 per cent were engaged in harvesting and growing fruit trees,” the Census says.

“Southern group households were mostly engaged in raising livestock and poultry as well as growing and harvesting root crops. Northern group households were also engaged in raising livestock and poultry.” 

However, the Census also noted that of those households actively engaged in agriculture over 80 per cent were for home consumption only and a mere 1 per cent was for sale or commercial purposes.

Meanwhile, the main farm equipment owned by households in 2021 were more or less the same as those reported in 2016.

The percentage of households reporting to owning farm equipment were, grass cutter (67.8), bush knife (63.5), water pump (51.0), motor mower (50.3), and chainsaw (35.8). However, the Census noted there is no correlation found between owning a farm equipment to households’ agriculture activity.

There was also according to the Census, only 39 per cent (1825) of all private households engaged in any type of fishing activity. 

Rarotonga accounted for 22.2 per cent or 1040 active households and were mostly engaged in reef or lagoon fishing. Reef and lagoon harvesting includes paua (clams), rimu (seaweed), rori (bêche-de-mer) and other seafood collection. 

“Of those households actively engaged in reef or lagoon fishing, 90.6 per cent were for home consumption and only 0.5 per cent were for sale or commercial purposes. Ocean fishing was mainly for home consumption while 20.2 per cent engaged in ocean fishing for sale,” the Census document says.

The Census also mentioned the wide use of coconuts, as it asked a question on the use of and number of coconuts was also asked. 

Over 70 per cent of all households reported using coconuts mainly for home (eating, drinking and for making coconut oil). Over 21,000 coconuts were used for this purpose averaging up to 6 coconuts per household per week. About 32 per cent of all households also use coconut for animal feed.