- Agronomic: corn, soybeans
- Fruits: melons, bananas
- Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, cabbages, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes
- Additional Plants: native plants, trees
- Animals: poultry, swine
- Miscellaneous: mushrooms
- Crop Production: windbreaks
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, study circle, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, cooperatives, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study
- Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, compost extracts, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, soil solarization, traps, weather monitoring
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, partnerships, public participation, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, community services, social networks, sustainability measures
This project is designed to educate and train extension agents, state government agricultural staff, and agricultural professionals in on-farm implementation of sustainable management systems through training workshops, hands-on trainings, and field days. Before the training workshops, on each site, the project team will organize one-day brainstorming audio-visual conference on “sustainable atoll agriculture: needs, management strategies and future potential” for the participants. The project team will produce sustainable farming and production guides, easy-to-understand handouts, and informative brochures in English and local language. The project team will also produce videotape on sustainable compost preparation, use and advantages of composting, and atoll soil fertility management through composting.
A lack of trained agricultural professionals in the Marshall Islands, often because of low salary and atoll living constraints, has meant farmers don’t have the needed assistance to develop sustainable agriculture systems. A few farmers are doing agriculture on a very limited scale and they lack information, knowledge, and skills. Because of these limitations, the production yield is very low, forcing the farmers to quit agriculture. Therefore, there is an acute need for trained agricultural professionals in sustainable agriculture systems, which will enable them to render basic information, knowledge and skills to farmers. Many farmers from the Marshall Islands are not able to understand the English language well; therefore, the project team will also translate developed material in local language.
There are some special concerns for atolls that are not encountered in other environments, such as the wind and salt spray near shore. In addition to these, the two major physical limitations are inadequate rainfall in some years and in many places, and soil fertility limitations. The alkaline or “limy” make-up of soils results in less availability of plant nutrients, especially iron, which limits the growth of many introduced plants. In addition to iron, atoll soils are also deficient in nitrogen and/or phosphorous, and all lack sufficient potassium.
The management needed to obtain high yields of various crops depends on the kind of soil and the crop. This includes a drainage system, proper planting, and seedling rates, the selection of suitable high-yielding crop varieties for planting, appropriate methods of tillage, control of weeds and plant disease, application of fertilizer, measures that are effective in maintaining the content of organic matter, and proper irrigation systems. Chemical fertilizers alone could not sufficiently provide nutrients for food crops due to excessive water drainage or less water holding capacity of atoll soils. Moreover, the high import cost of chemical fertilizers requires a need to look for alternative methods. The key to successful sustainable atoll agriculture is maintaining the content of organic matter in the soil. Use of compost in combination with a small amount of chemical fertilizers can prove economical and productive. Compost provides essential nutrients, improves soil structure, which allows better root growth, and increases moisture and nutrient retention in the soil.
The project team will develop an easy-to-understand participants’ feedback questionnaire, with clear directions and specific questions to evaluate the response and outcomes of the training workshops. At the end of each workshop, participants will fill out these evaluation forms. To evaluate the success and outcomes of the entire project, the project team will develop a project evaluation questionnaire, with clear directions and specific questions to measure participants’ knowledge and skills. At the end of the project, the questionnaire will be mailed to the participants for their response. The evaluation team (a state government representative, a member of a farm association, a statistics officer, an educator, an extension agent, and the project coordinator) will meet to discuss thoroughly and analyze all the questionnaires statistically and will document an evaluation report. The project team will submit the evaluation report to the Western Region SARE Program.
Project objectives from proposal:
Educate and train extension agents, state government agricultural staff, agricultural professionals, and members of non-profit organizations and farm associations in on-farm implementation of sustainable management systems for tropical atoll agriculture by training workshops (including PowerPoint presentations and hands-on trainings) and field days (on-site demonstration visits of successful trials).
Organize one-day brainstorming audio-visual conference on “sustainable atoll agriculture: needs, management strategies and future potential” for the participants before the training workshops on each site.
Develop, publish, and distribute sustainable farming and production guides, easy-to-understand handouts, and informative brochures in English and local language.
Develop and distribute videotape on sustainable compost preparation, use and advantages of composting, and atoll soil fertility management through composting in English and local language.