New Crops for Pacific Island Agroforestry
Specialty crops are a rapidly growing economic opportunity for farmers who are interested in diversifying their farm products and who are willing to innovate their production methods, post-harvest processing, and marketing. The large global demand for farm and forest food, fiber and healthcare products presents openings that Pacific islanders are uniquely suited to fill. Noni and kava are examples of two important specialty crops that originated in the Pacific; coffee and vanilla are two valuable crops that originated outside the Pacific but have become highly valuable specialty crops in various Pacific regions.
To support the vast potential for new Pacific island specialty crops, Farm and Forest Production and Marketing (FFPM) profiles for 32 crops are being developed to support the region’s participation in the world marketplace for high quality food, fiber, and healthcare products. The FFPM profiles will detail essential information for crop development: horticulture and botany, the roles for each crop in mixed-crop agroforestry, commercial products, product quality standards, location and size of markets, post-harvest processing, opportunities for local value-added processing, and the potential for genetic improvement. The completed FFPM profiles will be available for free, unrestricted download in PDF format from www.agroforestry.net.
The FFPM profiles will be a valuable resource for Pacific island agricultural extension professionals as well as farmers. The profiles will provide extension-level, detailed information about new crops that are highly compatible with Pacific island agronomic conditions, suitable for agroforestry systems, and appropriate for local and export markets. These crops are “new” in the sense that they are underdeveloped, underutilized, or not well recognized for their commercial potential. Supporting local Pacific island agricultural extension professionals with current and detailed processing and marketing information for promising new crops for mixed-crop agroforestry systems will stimulate farm enterprise development while promoting sustainable land use.
1. Survey Pacific island species experts and local agriculture and forestry professionals to select 32 promising crop species to be covered by the project.
2. Identify candidate authors for the 32 FFPM profiles and secure author commitments.
3. Locate at least two photographs to illustrate each profile.
4. Produce the 32 FFPM manuscripts (4-8 pages each) through a series of author-editor revisions, and finally review by educators and farmers.
5. Publish the 32 profiles as PDF files for free download from agroforestry.net (a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization) as they are completed.
6. Distribute a full set of the completed profiles on CD and hardcopy to 100 libraries, public service offices, and agricultural professionals throughout the U.S.-affiliated Pacific.
7. Publicize the profiles through several channels, including Pacific island agricultural journals, international agroforestry journals, internal university and USDA newsletters, and the SAN Program’s Source Book of Sustainable Agriculture and sanet-mg.
8. Conduct a phone survey of at least 30 agricultural extension professionals and practitioners 3 months after distribution to evaluate behavioral impact.
During January and February 2008, we conducted a survey to determine the most promising specialty crops for Pacific island agroforestry. We asked respondents to recommend crops that are economically, ecologically, and culturally sustainable for family farmers in the Pacific. There were 103 surveys submitted. We received surveys from a wide range of experts with knowledge of Pacific island plants, horticulture, and economic crops. Respondents were based in American Samoa, Australia, Saipan, mainland U.S.A., Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, Pohnpei, Guam, Hawaii, Kiribati, Kosrae, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Palau, Samoa, and Yap. From this survey, 32 of the most promising crops were chosen for the project.
Authors were identified for all 32 crops, and a list posted to http://www.agroforestry.net/scps/
Photographs are being collected for all crops by the Project Coordinator and authors. To date, photographs have been received for 25 of the 32 crops.
Production is proceeding, with 15 manuscripts received by the Project Coordinator to date. These manuscripts are in various stages of production, including first edits, author revisions, outside review, and final formatting.
No progress to date.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
• Target audience will have an increased awareness of economically viable opportunities in agroforestry systems.
• Target audience will have an increased knowledge and appreciation of successful strategies for developing new crops in a Pacific island context.
• Target audience will receive current and detailed marketing and processing information for promising new crops selected by experts from throughout the Pacific.
• NRCS and university cooperative extension will increasingly be able to recommend agroforestry practices to their farmer/rancher collaborators as an ecologically and economically viable alternative to monocropping.
• Rural agricultural enterprises will be strengthened by new crops for local and export markets, as well as value-added opportunities.
• University and other research entities will increase their research of diverse agricultural systems that incorporate new crops.
• Agroforestry practices implemented on many individual farms will begin to serve a watershed function, enhance wildlife habitat, and decrease use and export of chemical farm pollutants.
• Rural livelihoods will be improved through crop diversification and reaching new markets.
• Farmer profits will increase due to informed use of value-added processing.
Agroforestry and Novel Crops Unit
School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University
PO Box 6811
Cairns, QLD, Australia 4870
Office Phone: 61740421573