Final report for WSP19-027
Over the past 23 years the U.S. Land Grant System, through Western SARE supported professional development and capacity building to agriculture extension agents, farmers, and gardeners in the three island nations, namely Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, and Republic of the Marshall Islands. The College of Micronesia, Land Grant Program, serves the 3 island nations. For the purpose of USDA and SARE, Micronesia is a state and receives the same level of funding like Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands. Micronesia is geographically isolated and is scattered over a large area of the Pacific larger than the United State Mainland. Transportation and communications are significantly expensive and as such are barriers to development because it's next to impossible to coordinate any SARE training activities. This project will capitalize on the recently trained SARE Liaison to asset when PI or a Cooperator who will travel to other islands to evaluate and document sustainable agriculture activities from previous SARE and other funding sources, and to conduct hands-on training at the same time.
Hands-on training topics will include simple climate change adaptation measures such as composting, sheet-mulching, cover crop, intercropping, and use climate tolerant varieties.
There are two main objectives of this project:
1. To train the liaison, extension agents, and farmers on sustainable gardening that address climate and NCD issues. This will be achieved when the training is completed at sites by the visiting trainer. The timeline for achieving this objective is the second to the third quarter.
2. To empower the liaisons to train other stakeholders in their communities the practices they have learned. This is expected to be accomplished in the 3rd and the 4th quarters of the project.
Noncommunicable diseases like obesity, high blood, hypertension, and others are increasingly a health issue for the islanders in recent years due mainly to poor diet and nutrition in the households as significant segments of the population are depended mostly on the poor quality imported foods like rice, flour, and noodles, canned meats and frozen meats imported from the United States and from different parts of the world. Greens and vegetables are not cultivated and people who use vegetables normally would buy form the groceries. However, such commodities are not always available as the shelves are empty weeks after shipment. As stated earlier, families are dependent on grocery stores and only those who have extra money. The only way to allow all families to have vegetables and other food crops is to have their own home garden. The home garden also offers the opportunity for family members to work together and to have physical exercise; lack of it which contribute to overweight and obesity that contribute to other health issues.
Normally for a home garden, we would advise selecting a site with fertile soil, good drainage, and good accessibility, that is closer to visit and work, e.g. planting and harvesting. In this case, however, the main thing to make sure is available plenty of sunlight. The area selected was immediately across the road from an office and it is easy to access. The topsoil in at the selected was scraped off and remaining soil was mostly clay with poor drainage. The area was weeded and an 18 inch by 18-inch deep drainages were dug in several places running across the field. Next, 3 feet diameter wire mesh baskets were strategically placed around the garden. These were compost bins that were filled in a layer of chopped coconut husks, as Carbon source, and grasses. A small amount of finish compost was put in the middle of the bin to enhance decomposition. After about 8 weeks the bottom of the layer was showing signs of some breakdown and some composts. At this time we started planing vegetables including spinach, cabbage, eggplants, and some yam in holes with simar process. The grees planted closer to the baskets were dark in color compared to the yellowing ones not receiving the same compost benefit. With the benefit of the composts, the vegetables yielded higher. Based on visual observation we estimated increased yield is about 4 times. The garden activity was not completed because we were relocated. However, for yam D. esculanta, the results were encouraging. We planted 60 + lbs and harvested 300 + lbs, more than 200 % increased, normally yield of yam is around double the planed piece.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Compost to increase yield, whatever the soil fertililty is
Incorporating compost in the garden is a smart way as compost is readily available and one does not run and is able to contine plantig.
Before the project, people use to think that to have compost one needs pig or chicken manure. Now farmers and gardeners who visited are learned they can make their own compost with the use of coconut husks or other carbon sources plus grasses.
Educational & Outreach Activities
More observation on compost making and use of the same for other food crops.
Face of SARE
This project increases the visibility and increases awareness in the areas of simple methodology in the areas of sustainable agriculture.