Perhaps the most important outcome of the project was the integration of three different activities into an effective low-input sustainable system. Coordinator Kalistas Marquez grows kava, or sakau, and raises pigs. He demonstrated the recycling of discarded plant parts and animal wastes, a new concept to farmers, many of whom consider that pig manure and plants are not meant to be incorporated. It is uncommon for one farmer to maintain a piggery and grow kava at the same time. Many consider pig manure to be filthy, but the project was an eye-opener for some farmers.
The project was open to the public and attracted nearly 200 people, including tradition leaders, agencies and the general public. Several farmers have expressed interest in the project and one community group has sought information on obtaining a SARE grant.
Adoption of the concepts used for this project can help deter destruction of forests and contamination of water sources. Until 1982, kava was raised in the lowlands, but a drought prompted growers to clear upland forests to grow the sakau where it would be less affected by drought. However, as sakau consumption increased more forests were cleared for its production, reducing them from 42% of the island in 1975 to less than 15% today. The result has been reduced water quality, streams that dry up more quickly and increased erosion.
• Develop a sustainable lowland sakau industry through the reuse of discarded plant parts
• Develop alternative, sustainable enterprises by incorporating a sakau bar, sakau nursery and pig waste for composting and fertilizer
Although the project has not evolved into a sizeable business, the family has produced about 1,500 planting materials and field planted more than 300. More than half of those will be ready for harvest in another year or so, and one-third were planted in the back yard, providing both easy access and evidence to other growers that sakau can, in fact, be grown successfully in most lowland areas.
The family raised more than 10 pigs since the pen was completed, and two sows and offspring were being maintained at the time of this report. Over little more than a year, five other pigs were slaughtered with weights ranging from 116 to 180 pounds and a value of more than $1,000. Compared with local standards and capability, attaining such value in the given timeframe was a success.
BENEFITS OR IMPACTS ON AGRICULTURE
The most immediate benefit for other farmers is the awareness and understanding of the sustainable practice of combining different components under one operation. Showing that such a practice can be undertaken on an affordable scale should stimulate other producers to consider starting their own operations. More people are now aware of the importance of animal waste, pig manure especially, as a plant food. The project demonstrated that a family can increase income while reducing the cost of growing kava in the mountains. The waste management shows how growers can improve sanitation in villages and communities where people are congested.
It is estimated, based on discussions and visits, that more than 10 other growers are now using pig manure as a source of plant nutrients or for composting.
REACTIONS FROM PRODUCERS
More than 10 people made comments about the project, including: “It is a good project and the grant is wonderful as it provides an incentive for the recipient to want to complete the project so he receives final payment.” Other individuals expressed interest in seeking similar assistance to upgrade local chicken flocks through the use of different breeds under controlled breeding conditions.
RECOMMENDATIONS OR NEW HYPOTHESES
Recycling of discarded plant parts could still be a major component of a similar project. However, such a project should be designed for farmers who are not engaged in kava pounding or sakau marketing. Instead of using pig manure, a similar project could involve raising chickens and recycling kava plant parts.
A celebration of success, open to the public, was conducted, and the owners made a presentation to a gathering of more than 100 people. People continue to stop by and visit with the owner and ask questions once or twice a week. In addition, a photo presentation will be translated into the local language for dissemination to the public.