On-Farm Implementation and Demonstration of Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and Livestock Production Systems for Small-Scale Farmers in Micronesia

Final Report for FW09-302

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2009: $38,220.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Federated States of Micronesia
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Virendra M. Verma
Northern Marianas College
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

This project demonstrated the feasibility of integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production systems for small-scale farmers in the island conditions. The project optimized overall agricultural and livestock production by using locally available resources through an integrated technology which employed multipurpose crops, animals and recycling of residues and byproducts as nutrients for animals and crops. The project not only provided opportunities for income generation and profitable self-employment to the participating farmers but also provided an example to other farmers and rural communities to get same benefits on successful duplication of the project. The project team attracted, encouraged and trained farmers through field days and hands-on training workshops and distributed sustainable farming, swine production and composting guides. A video of project activities was telecasted on local channel and distributed to non-subscribers of cable.

Introduction

The Federated States of Micronesia is made up of 607 small islands spread over a million square miles of the Western Pacific Ocean. However, the total land area is only about 271 square miles. The islands of Micronesia are striving towards self-sufficiency while mindful of high malnutrition and an enormous trade imbalance attributable to importing foods. Very little food crops are cultivated at the local level, and most of the foods available at local markets are imported. Due to high shipping costs, these are very expensive and unaffordable for average local people. And even after paying high prices, people are not able to get fresh produce because of long transportation time. Although current agriculture programs are mostly on subsistence level, food crops and swine production are considered primary and important industries in Micronesia. Almost every household on the island has swine production operations, with capacities that range from a few animals to about twenty-five animals and backyard gardening. These operations may be small, but they are numerous. Local people mostly rely on banana, breadfruit and taro as main sources of food for themselves and also for livestock; however, their needs are usually much greater than the available food supplies.

Taro and pigs are part of many traditional and cultural practices. Value of taro and pigs is closely related with demands during funerals, annual feasts and daily community functions and activities. To meet this ever-increasing demand for food and feed, there is a crucial need to increase agricultural production by generating the ability to successfully raise livestock and grow food and feed crops for sustenance by training local farmers in the appropriate and skillful use of sustainable and integrated agriculture systems.

This project was specifically designed to implement and demonstrate integrated farming systems involving crop and swine production by using local resources, thus providing a sustainable alternative for the benefit of small-scale farmers and the environment.

Project Objectives:

The overall goal for this project was on-farm implementation and demonstration of integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production systems for small-scale farmers in Micronesia. Specific objectives for the project were to

1) develop, implement and demonstrate cropping systems for multipurpose crops to maximize production in sustainable manner;

2) develop, implement and demonstrate swine production systems based on locally available resources for small-scale farmers;

3) develop, implement and demonstrate simple techniques to optimize the use of different components of crops for different end purposes, such as food, feed and nutrients for plants;

4)implement and demonstrate recycling of animal wastes and crop residues through composting;

5) educate and train farmers and rural communities in on-farm implementation of sustainable agriculture systems through demonstrations, training workshops and field days;

6) develop, publish, and distribute sustainable farming and swine production guides, easy-to-understand handouts and informative brochures in English and local language; and

7) record, develop and telecast project’s success stories in English and local language.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Ilai Abraham
  • Madlyn Etse
  • Kalwin Kephas
  • Marlige Livaie
  • Betty Phillip

Research

Materials and methods:

The key concept of this project was to implement and demonstrate to small-scale farmers a successful integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production system that is promising in island conditions and is safe for the environment and workforce. This project utilized on-farm composting techniques of manure, along with crop residues, for land application and crop utilization to prevent the contamination of surface and ground water. This project employed multiple integrated activities to minimize external inputs.

This project provided adequate opportunities to educate and train farmers and rural communities in on-farm implementation of sustainable agriculture systems through training workshops (including PowerPoint presentations and hands-on trainings) at the pilot site and field days (demonstrations at pilot and producer sites). The project team produced various multi-color guides on sustainable farming, swine production and manure management. These guides were distributed to the participants and local farmers during training workshops, field days and demonstrations, and also through municipalities and state offices. The project team also produced a video on integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production, and telecasted it several times on local channel. The video was also flashed multiple times through LCD projector on a big screen for group viewing on-demand. The copies of video were provided to the national telecommunication company for on-demand telecast throughout Micronesia. Multiple copies of video were distributed to non-subscribers of cable. The project team collected evaluation data from participants through questionnaires, observations, interviews and site visits. Evaluation data were analyzed. The response and outcomes of the training workshops, hands-on trainings and project activities, and graphical summary is presented in evaluation and data analysis section of this report.

Research results and discussion:

The project increased knowledge, created awareness and developed skills of 78 participants of training workshop and 124 participants of field days about integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production. The project also attracted and encouraged more than 2,000 people through indirect contact such as video telecast, cultivation guides and video distribution. The project made participants capable to organize trainings, teach other farmers and provide assistance, and apply gained knowledge and skills in the field. Ultimately, the project developed positive attitudes, zeal for learning techniques and farming aspects and changed the behavior of the participants.
The project coordinator, producers and participants maintained a high level of interest for development, implementation and demonstration of multiple integrated activities for cropping systems and swine production in a sustainable manner. Demonstration plots developed at the pilot and producer sites were used for demonstration of planned outreach activities to encourage establishment of integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production systems. At the project sites, vigorously growing crops; harvest of excellent sweet potatoes, bananas, eggplants, taro and papaya; and swine production, along with sustainable and fast composting techniques, attracted much attention of local communities. Harvested eggplants from the project’s pilot site were showcased during State Agriculture Fair 2010 and 2011 and were awarded with the first and second prize for vegetable/eggplant category.

The successful implementation of the skills and technology gained by the farmers through this project will not only lead to long-term availability of fresh food crops and swine at affordable prices in Micronesia but also serve as a model for the region. This will also serve as a means to ensure food security and income generation. This project will help small farmers comply with existing and anticipated regulations to protect the environment from contamination by manure.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary

Education/outreach description:
Multi-colored Publications

Seven multi-color guides on banana cultivation, soft taro cultivation, sweet potato cultivation, eggplant cultivation, papaya cultivation, modified swine diet and composting were developed in English. These farming guides have all useful facts for cultivation such as land preparation, planting material preparation, planting material storage, methods of planting, time and distance of planting, replanting, fertilizer or compost application, cultivation, weeding, control of diseases and pests, harvesting and storage. Titles of guides are as follows:

i) Banana cultivation guide
ii) Soft taro cultivation guide
iii) Sweet potato cultivation guide
iv) Eggplant cultivation guide
v) Papaya cultivation guide
vi) Modified swine diet guide
vii) Composting guide

Field Days

Six field days were organized at the pilot and producer sites, and 124 participants from Lelu, Tafunsak, Malem, Utwe and Walung municipalities attended and participated in the field days. The participants included enthusiastic small-scale farmers, producers, agriculture students, youths, extension agents, state government agricultural staff and agricultural professionals. They visited pilot and producer demonstration sites and observed successful demonstration trials of banana, taro, sweet potato, kangkong, papaya and eggplants. Finished compost was also showcased. During the field days, technical assistance and support were provided. Participants were encouraged to ask questions and appropriate answers were provided. All the participants showed great interest in the project and expressed willingness to participate in week-long training workshops. Schedule of field days organized is as follows:

i) July 25, 2011
ii) July 26, 2011
iii) July 27, 2011
iv) July 28, 2011
v) July 29, 2011
vi) August 1, 2011

Training Workshops

Two training workshops of one-week duration each were organized at the pilot site, and 78 participants from Lelu, Tafunsak, Malem, Utwe and Walung municipalities attended and participated in the training workshops. The participants included enthusiastic small-scale farmers, producers, agriculture students, youths, extension agents, state government agricultural staff and agricultural professionals. PowerPoint presentations were given on land preparation, planting material preparation, planting material storage, methods of planting, time and distance of planting, replanting, fertilizer and compost application, watering and maintenance, weeding, harvesting and storage for sweet potato, soft taro, banana, papaya, eggplant and kangkong. PowerPoint presentations also included detailed hot composting techniques and modified swine diets based on local resources. Extensive hands-on trainings were organized on cultivation and composting techniques. Schedule of training workshops organized is as follows:

i) November 21-25, 2011
ii) November 28-December 02, 2011

Video Presentation

Project activities were recorded and produced as a video on Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and Livestock Production.

i) The video was telecasted several times through local TV channel, and

ii) Flashed through LCD projector on a big screen for group viewing on-demand.

iii) In addition to this, copies of video were distributed to interested community members who are non-subscribers of cable.

Conference/Symposium Publication/Presentation

Accomplishments of the project activities were presented in the Soil Carbon Sequestration Conference at the University of Guam and were also published in the conference proceedings. An abstract of project activities was submitted for Regional Symposium: High Value Vegetables in Southeast Asia: Production, Supply and Demand. The abstract was accepted and the conference committee invited the project coordinator for an oral presentation of accomplishments during the conference in Thailand. List of conference/symposium publications:

i) Verma, V.M. (2011) On-Farm Implementation and Demonstration of Integrated Sustainable Agriculture, Livestock Production, Composting and Soil Improvement Systems for Small-Scale Farmers in Micronesia, Proceeding: Soil Carbon Sequestration Conference, Guam.

ii) Verma, V.M. (2012) On-Farm Implementation and Demonstration of Integrated Sustainable Vegetable Production, Composting and Soil Improvement Systems for Small-Scale Farmers. Abstract in Regional Symposium on High Value Vegetables in Southeast Asia: Production, Supply and Demand, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

To accomplish the project targets successfully, the entire project plan, which comprised of seven objectives, was divided into two phases according to year and month-wise time framing. In the first year of the project, the development and implementation part of the first four objectives were completed. Work on remaining three objectives, and the demonstration part of first four objectives was carried out in the second year.

Objective 1: Develop, implement and demonstrate cropping systems for multipurpose crops to maximize production in sustainable manner

Multiple integrated activities were organized for dryland and wetland cropping systems and swine production to minimize external inputs as much as possible. Demonstration plots at the pilot site and producers’ sites were developed, and cropping systems for sweet potato, taro, banana, eggplant, kangkong and papaya were established. Planting materials for sweet potato, taro, banana and kangkong were multiplied through tissue culture at the Kosrae Agricultural Experiment Station (KAES) and used at all sites for planting. Hybrid seeds were used to prepare papaya and eggplant seedlings at the KAES. Sweet potato and taro were planted on raised beds to provide desired depth for storage root and corm development and for proper water drainage. Compost, along with little inorganic fertilizer, was used for top and side dressings. Bananas were planted in rows. The holes were dug directly into the ground. The bottom half of each hole was filled with compost, and the top-half was filled with amended soil. Taro and kangkong were planted as wetland crops, and treated effluent from piggery was used to fertilize the crops. Considering the high rate of vitamin-A deficiency and iron deficiency, especially among local women and children, two yellow-fleshed sweet potato varieties (rich in beta-carotene) were included in the project experiments. In addition to the proposed crops, papaya, due to its high beta-carotene content, and eggplants, due to their rich iron content, were also included in the project. Eggplant and papaya were planted in rows, and compost, along with little inorganic fertilizer, was used for soil amendment before planting, and later for side dressings.

Objective 2: Develop, implement and demonstrate swine production system based on locally available resources for small-scale farmers

Sweet potato and kangkong leaves were used regularly to provide protein and dietary fiber to swine. During harvesting season, swine were also fed on surplus sweet potato storage roots, taro corms and banana fruit to provide carbohydrates. It is clearly evident that a modified diet based on locally grown crops could efficiently and completely substitute the usual commercial swine feed. However, the farm areas at all sites need to be expanded and systematically maintained in order to feed swine throughout the year on a modified diet based on local resources.

Objective 3: Develop, implement and demonstrate simple techniques to optimize the use of different components of crops for different end purposes, such as food, feed and nutrients for plants

Sweet potato storage roots, taro corms, eggplants, papaya and banana fruit were used as source of carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals primarily for human consumption, and excess produce was used as swine feed. Sweet potato and kangkong leaves were used as source of protein and dietary fiber for human consumption and swine feed. Swine manure, effluent from piggery, crop residues and byproducts from farm were recycled through on-farm composting or treatment and utilized as organic nutrients at all sites to fertilize all crops to minimize the use of commercial inorganic fertilizers.

Objective 4: Implement and demonstrate recycling of animal wastes and crop residues through composting

Organic matters such as banana pseudostem, leaves, fruit peels; taro petioles, excess leaves, corm peels; sweet potato and kangkong petioles and vines, excess leaves; and swine manure were used for composting. Solid swine manure was separated from the piggery effluent by using a rundown screen and sun dried for two weeks. Dried solid manure was shredded along with the dried organic materials, such as crop residues and was used as brown material for composting. All fresh and green organic materials were shredded while still fresh and were used as green material for composting. Effluent from the piggery was collected in cement tanks after solid removal through rundown screen. Five percent of shredded green crop residues by volume were added in the collected effluent and mixed thoroughly. The mixture was allowed to decompose through aerobic microbial activity for initial two-three days and later left for anaerobic fermentation for seven-eight days. The treated effluent was diluted and released directly into the plots for wetland crops and was also used to maintain moisture content in the compost pile. Hot composting technique was implemented to convert the nutrient-rich crop residues and swine manure into valuable compost. A six-inch layer at the bottom of the compost pile was filled with coconut husk for better air circulation. Green (nitrogen rich) and brown (carbon rich) materials were layered alternately, and on each layer a half-inch thick layer of finished compost and fresh and healthy soil from the forest was added as an activator. Aerobic process was used for decomposition of organic matters. High microbial activities generated heat that was regulated and maintained within the required range of 140-158oF in the composting pile by appropriate air circulation and proper moisture maintenance during heating phase. The pile was turned once in a week, and treated effluent from the piggery was sprayed to control and maintain appropriate temperature and moisture, respectively. The heating phase gradually changed into a cooling phase, and decomposition occurred without much generation of heat, and temperature dropped slowly to 86oF. At the end of decomposition, during the maturation phase, the temperature dropped between 68-77oF and resulted in finished compost. This ecologically integrated and well managed system composted the manure, spilled feed and crop residues in less than three months.

Objective 5: Educate and train farmers and rural communities in on-farm implementation of sustainable agriculture systems through demonstrations, training workshops and field days

Announcements to recruit participants were broadcasted multiple times on radio, and all the applicants were accepted. The participants included enthusiastic small-scale farmers, producers, agriculture students, youths, extension agents, state government agricultural staff and agricultural professionals. The project educated and trained 78 participants at the pilot site through training workshops, and encouraged 124 participants at the pilot and producer sites through field days.

PowerPoint presentations were given on land preparation, planting material preparation, planting material storage, methods of planting, time and distance of planting, replanting, fertilizer and compost application, watering and maintenance, weeding, harvesting and storage for sweet potato, soft taro, banana, papaya, eggplant and kangkong. PowerPoint presentations also included detailed hot composting techniques and a modified swine diet based on local resources.

Extensive hands-on trainings were organized on composting techniques (collection of green and brown material for composting, shredding of green and brown material for composting, compost preparation), cultivation techniques (land preparation: clearing, plowing and flattening, layout designing for sweet potato cultivation, application of compost as top dressing and bed preparation for sweet potato cultivation; planting: planting material preparation, planting material storage, methods of planting, time and distance of planting, replanting, fertilizer and compost application, watering and maintenance). Participants were encouraged to ask questions any time during the workshops and field days.

Objective 6: Develop, publish, and distribute sustainable farming and swine production guides, easy-to-understand handouts and informative brochures in English and local language

Seven multi-color guides on banana cultivation, soft taro cultivation, sweet potato cultivation, eggplant cultivation, papaya cultivation, modified swine diet and composting were developed in English. These farming guides have all useful facts for cultivation such as land preparation, planting material preparation, planting material storage, methods of planting, time and distance of planting, replanting, fertilizer or compost application, cultivation, weeding, control of diseases and pests, and harvesting and storage.

Objective 7: Record, develop and telecast project’s success stories in English and local language

Project activities were recorded and produced as a video on integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production in digital video disc (DVD) format. The video was telecasted multiple times on local channel. The video was also flashed multiple times through LCD projector on big screen for group viewing on-demand. The copies of video were provided to the national telecommunication company for on-demand telecast, and multiple copies of video were distributed to non-subscribers of cable.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

This project demonstrated the feasibility of integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production systems for small-scale farmers in the island conditions. The project optimized overall agricultural and livestock production by using locally available resources through an integrated technology which employed multipurpose crops, animals and recycling of residues and byproducts as nutrients for animals and crops. This project not only provided opportunities for income generation and profitable self-employment to the participating farmers but also provided an example to other farmers and rural communities to get same benefits on successful duplication of the project.

Future Recommendations

In Micronesia, where available resources are very limited, the project was a great success. The project generated and demonstrated an integrated sustainable agriculture approach of farming among the usually under-served population of Micronesia. Duplication of project activities in other states of Micronesia will greatly help local populations to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills about integrated sustainable agriculture and livestock production systems and will encourage them to adopt sustainable and whole-system approaches.

The report may provide the foundation for additional grants such as the Research and Education Grant through SARE in addition to other sources.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.