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By IF Terengauea Maio & CKMO Rosalind Kiata

Over three-hundred kind of food crops are successfully grown inside four giant taro pit that have lain fallow for years. The giant taro pit has been remodelled using terracing methods to plant other food crops using a small piece of land. Barenaba Itaia, one of many active farmers whose interests in giant taro cultivation had extended to other food crop planting had remodelled his 4 giant taro pits by planting giant taro and kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica) down at the water level, taro plants on a muddy bank. On the first terrace he plants Ceylon spinach, the second terrace up is covered with bananas and papayas, followed by kumara patch and on the ground level you could find drumsticks, breadfruits, chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius), iamaii, iaroo (Pseuderanthemum whartonianum), seeded and non-seeded breadfruit trees.

Around Barenaba’s home are patches of kumara and pumpkins. Barenaba Itaia left his home island of Nonouti as a young boy to attend a Catholic Secondary School in the capital, Tarawa where he met his wife. He accompanied his wife to live at Makin, first island north in the Kiribati Chain. They both shared the same interest in growing and cultivating food crops.

However, in the year 2015, Barenaba took his family, his wife, 2 sons and a daughter to his home island of Nonouti following his absence of 8 years. Arriving home, he found that there were 4 giant taro pits left with not much crops inside. Most of the giant taros did not survive due to the long drought which is only natural to the island’s continuous dry spells.  He saw that the crops will not be enough for his family future needs so he and his wife decided to fill all the four fallow pits and grow more crops.

Meanwhile, Barenaba and his wife, Nei Takatu discussed plans to make a giant taro-terraced model after several visits by KOIFAWP’s Component 2 Manager in 2016 with plans to include planting a variety of food crops in a small area. The couple readily agreed to try out the terraced model using the fallow giant taro pits.

However, faced with no tool, the couple and their two young children aged 9 and 6, struggled on by borrowing shovels, spades and crowbars to make 3-4 ladder-like steps to form terraces. As new settlers to the island, following their relocation from the wife’s home island of Makin, first island north in the Kiribati chain to Barenaba Itaia’s home island of Nonouti in the central Kiribati, his wife made hundred thatched-roofs for the bungalows that they will build for their sleeping house and the other for eating house, kitchen, bathroom and a house sheltering the well-water that they used for all domestic purposes. The well has a house build on it to protect the underground water from evaporation as the island is very hot. He built a wall about 3 ft high to protect it from wandering and stray pigs, dogs, cats and chicken. The wall acted also as a protection against his young children from falling into the well.

Over the years, Barenaba’s family overcome their first and second plans of building a home and introducing a terraced model for unused fallow pits.The family arrived in Nonouti about 2 years since the inception of the project but they joined it immediately aware of the benefits the project will bring. The family have been very active with home gardening from Takatu’s home island of Makin and they were not new to the home gardening activity etc. Giant taro cultivation is daily task at Makin since the giant taro is a staple food that the island people cannot do without and the island always face a lot of rain making it a ideal place for growing food crops. With full support from the project, Barenaba and his family was and is still the best successful household home garden throughout Nonouti and the other 3 original islands.

He became the role model and champ by introducing a terraced model to a fallow pit and planting many kinds of edible crops using terraces as for limited land. The little land used in the terraced model can provide a family with lots of different foods ranging from fruit trees, root crops and leafy vegetables starting from the water lens to the top soil or ground level. For his determination and success back home, Barenaba had been invited to attend workshops in Tarawa where he shared his life experiences starting from hardships to his success in home gardening using unused giant taro pits for terracing models as well as gene bank for varieties of local food crops.His efforts and determination had also given him and his family more hopes in future. His hard labour had paid off by eating various kinds of foods readily available from such a small piece of land that he had remodelled to his family needs.

Read more: Climate Change Impact on Nonouti Island's Giant Taro (Cystosperma Chamissonis)

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By CFO Riiteta Tiim
Rewritten by GYO Teruabine Nuariki

Kontitan Mikaere, 25 years of age is one of our farmer’s successful youth who is the eldest in his family and lives with his mother and young siblings. Since his father died in his young age, he became a breadwinner for his family. He loves working in his giant swamp taro pit. Being a quiet and introvert person, he finds it difficult to seek assistance from others and was not able to join KOIFAWP’s Phase one project.

In the roll of KOIFAWP’s Phase ll in 2019, Riiteta Tiim, a CFO from Teuabu village in Nonouti approached him and asked if he is willing to join the home gardening. He gladly accepted the invitation and finding it a blessing since he has been longing for help on home gardening. CFO Riiteta has a vision for Kontitan for his great passion designates this babai pit to be used as a demonstration plot and works hard on it. He started cleaning the plot. Despite the heat of the sun and his struggle in using his human power in digging and filling of holes with compost, he enjoys what he was doing knowing that as a breadwinner, this will help him in getting his daily food and income to support his family’s needs.

When his terracing pit was filled and ready, he asked the CFO to check it out with Agricultural Assistant so the CFO and AA came to assist him in organising his food crops in his farm.

    

Above: Kontitan Mikaere (25 years old) working his babai pit terracing demo. 
Below: Kontitan Mikaere enjoys his farm.

Kontitan expressed his gratitude for the help he has received from the KOIFAWP team and said, “ My sincere thanks to this project as now I am able to have skills and knowledge which I have been longing for because I am very keen in gardening but do not have the skills. I use to think that only our parents are responsible to work in gardens but now I realised that, I like other youth, can make a difference in taking responsibility because we are youth and strong. Now I am challenging my fellow youth to take responsibility in working in our gardens because we are young and strong. If I can do, why can’t others do the same?”

Kontitan is a first youth member from his respective village and island whose farm is used as a demo plot. He is one of our determined youth gardener’s activist.

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Mr Bwaota Kaririki was awarded in recognition of his outstanding performance on farming and home gardening a Meritorious Services Award during the Kiribati 41st Independence Anniversary on 12th July. Regardless of being disabled, he strives with strong determination towards fulfilling his dream of establishing and sustaining his own garden – an outcome which is considered impossible to achieve given his physical condition, his age and the condition of our harsh environment.

In recognition of his achievement and exceptional performance, Mr Bwaota Kaririki, 72, was given “The Meritorious Services Award”. Bwaota Kaririki lives in a small village in his home island of Beru, one of IFAD’s funded project nine islands. He spent most of lives away from his home land with no formal education but took an interest in carpentry.

Carpentry became his trade and worked for his island’s Local Council, assist in building a house in Fiji for a Tuvaluan Community.  He retired from work at the age of 50 but continued to construct houses on other islands owned by his church.  It was on one of the islands, Abemama, when Bwaota was doing a construction work for the Kiribati Protestant Church (KPC) when he hurt himself.

He was flown to the capital, Tarawa where his left leg was amputated in 2013. Two years later Bwaota was discharged from the hospital and returned to his home island of Beru. He did not rest there but set up his home garden and started planting cash crops such as Chinese and English cabbages, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, Ceylon spinach, sweet potatoes, chili, banana, Chaya, bele (Abelmoschus Manihot). Gardening was not a problem for Bwaota who was once a gardener at the KPC’s High School and an Agriculture Assistant

When the Kiribati Outer Islands Food and Water Project (KOIFAWP) came to his island of Beru in 2014, Bwaota’s home garden was already established, and was already selling out his local produce. He joined the project in 2016 following visits from the project’s Island Facilitator and Community Facilitating Officers who gave him full agricultural support by bringing crops promoted by the project and gardening tools.

Bwaota’s plans paid off. He was able to support his family financially and nutritionally. His gardening needs were procured, his home garden was extended to fit in other crops and seedlings brought with gardening tools by KOIFAWP’s community workers. It was during this time that everyone just started establishing their home gardens that seeds and crops were running out.

Bwaota readily agreed to assist by providing seedlings, cuttings, and seeds while orders were placed to KOIFAWP’s office in Tarawa for more supplies. On field-trainings, advice on how to improve his crops was carried out by visiting him at home by project staff due to his disability. Nowadays, Bwaota is inter-cropping long-term native food crops promoted by IFAD’s funded project (KOIFAWP) for his family consumption with short-term cash crops.

Mr Kaririki’s medal award took 3 years for the project for his commendation to the Office of Te Beretitenti (President’s Office) for his outstanding and determination despite his disability to be recognized nationally.

     

Bwaota Kaririki,(above) and with his wife (below) in his home garden which he has extended to accommodate more native food crops.

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By CFO Rotari Itinimoone & GYO Teruabine Nuariki

Teeba Tiaree, a 38 years old lady who is originally from Tabiang Beru who is now settling in Abemama because she married to Tekinaiti Teaitau, a 45 years old gentleman from Abamama. They have two daughters aged 8 and 6 years old and one adopted son who is 5 years old.

When the first settled in Abemama, they did not have any crops except one unhealthy breadfruit tree with few coconut trees and a giant swamp taro (Babai) pit. They began working in their babai pit, cultivating young and big swamp taro and planting young coconut trees, continuing what has started by her husband’s father who has passed away. They managed to work on other several babai pits beside what has started by their father.

When KOIFAWP was first introduced in Abemama, Teeba did not see it importance as she thought that the crops introduced do not last for a long time and will be a waste of energy. In 2018, she decided to start gardening and as a competitive person did not what to be defeated by others who have joined the KOIFAWP program and are now have lots of crops around their homes.

Being a competitive and passionate farmer, she decided to do her farming beside her home as she found it very convenient for her as it is very close to her home and can use her solar pump to water them. She prepared her garden pits first and filled it with decomposition, starting with coconut husks at the bottom layer followed by black soil, green manure, iron, decompose leaves, pig manure and liquid fertilizer and the last layer is the black soil. While preparing her garden, she collected her seedlings and cuttings from different agricultural agencies Tioon, Mamarau and Kaeuntaake which are cabbages, Tapioka, banana and cucumber beside what she has started with (babai, breadfruit and coconuts trees) and she planted them straight away when her garden was ready.

      

Teeba Tiare holding the fruits of her banana, weeding in her garden and eating what she has planted.

After all she has done, she felt so proud and satisfied and admire the beauty of her garden knowing that she can now have a balance diet and gain income from the surplus of her crops by selling them in their market.  She expressed her gratitude saying that now they are having healthy diet and her children are healthier than before after eating a balance food. Moreover, Teeba is very proud from the product of her hard work as she is having an investment from selling her food product in their market apart from cutting copra. She felt so accountable as she is now able to gain income to the support the needs of her family.

 

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KOIFAWP KIRIBATI

Nonouti Island, the 10th island in the Southern Kiribati is one of the driest islands in the Kiribati chain with a population of 2,530.The 33 low-lying scattered atolls are vulnerable to climate change. Nonouti Island is no exception to prolonged droughts which is frequent in the Southern Kiribati where the island is situated. The drought kills many giant swamp taro (Cyrtosperma merkusii) plants on the island depriving the locals of their source of carbohydrates and other important minerals derived from the edible corm. The roots need to be cooked for hours to reduce toxicity in the corms which is rich in nutrients, especially calcium. Persistent droughts changed the locals eating habits and cultivation dramatically over the past decades due to threats by rising sea level caused by global warming. Traditionally, swamp taro pits have been historically dug by hand by ancestors hundreds of years ago to a width of 17+ metres or more with a depth of 3+ metres.

In Nonouti, a different swamp taro cultivar known locally as the “ikaraoi” with bigger corms weighing about 20 kilograms are reserved for very important occasions or funtions. Another cultivar known as “katutu” with smaller leaves and corms are eaten daily with fish, coconut or breadfruit when its in season. In traditional cultures, swamp taro (ikaraoi) presence in family big events such as weddings, birthdays, funerals, when a girl reaches womanhood (first menstrual period) and gifts is highly praised. Unfortunately, climate change is affecting the growth of swamp taro which is a staple diet for Nonouti people including the rest of the islands. Intrusion of saltwater coming from underground through the freshwater lens have led to a mass destruction of the entire swamp taro pit causing hundreds of swamp taro plants to wither and die thus causing farmers to abandon its cultivation. Swamp taro staple die gradually changed to imported plain rice and flour. And imported foods come with imported diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. Both diseases are on the rise causing many young people with amputated legs and strokes.

Swamp taro cultivation can be quite a strenuous task. It’s a back-bone breaking task! It requires physical manpower which is one of the reasons people living in these islands hundreds of years ago were physically and mentally fit. Barenaba Itaia fits the picture. He is one of the lucky men inheriting his father’s 3 swamp taro pits in his home island of Nonouti. As a teenager he attended the Roman Catholic’s College in the capital, Tarawa. Having completed his studies he married his wife, Takatu and moved with her to live with her parents on her home island of Makin, the first island north in the Kiribati Group. Makin Island is the exact opposite of Nonouti. It has a fertile soil and being a rainy island swamp taro is the staple diet on the island. Swamp taro is abundant on the island and thrives luxuriously in its rich soil. Barenaba and his young wife spent 8 years in Makin constructing their home garden and spend most of their time working in the swamp taro pits. Takatu, Barenaba’s wife said that they love planting food crops including ornamental plants and that’s what they planted in her home garden at Makin.

In 2004, Barenaba finally took his wife and 2 children to his home island of Nonouti. What awaits him left him speechless. With the passing away of both his parents when he was away studying, he found that he has no home. No house. No nothing. His close relatives know the situation he was in and they welcomed and took Barenaba and his family to live temporarily with them while they helped Banarenaba build a new home for his family to return to. Barenaba took his family to their new home. The first thing he did was visiting the 3 old swamp taro pits he inherited from his father about 20 metres from his dwelling house. What he saw were the last few stunted swamp taro plants scattered in a sorry state. He was just in time to rescue them as they were about to wither and die. He spent days discussing ways of reviving the pit with his wife and to plant as many swamp taros as they could get to fill in the 3 pits. They came up with a plan and within weeks of their arrival, their plan materialized. The couple started off by digging the pit further down. The work was tough but Barenaba and his wife kept digging daily for months exposing the freshwater lens and preparing the pit before planting the swamp taro.

It was more than a year when finally, Barenaba and his wife managed to fill 2 swamp taro pits. They could only plant 2 cultivars of the 11 known cultivars found and grown in Kiribati. They now cultivate “ikaraoi” and “katutu” cultivars. The couple’s sheer determination had paid off. Their swamp taro pit and plants is the most successful on the island. Barenaba and his wife loved challenges. When they joined KOIFAWP in 2006 and were asked to remodel the pits to terraces, they did not hesitate but readily agreed to give it a go. The swamp taro now is planted with kangkong at the bottom of the pit on the freshwater lens, taro plants on the next tier above, on second tier cassava, spinach and above ground level are papayas, drumsticks, breadfruits, pumpkins, kumara and many others. Barenaba Itaia and his family lack nothing. The swamp taro, “ikaraoi” cultivar is readily available for all kinds of special occasions.

In Nonouti, the traditional and cultural demand for “ikaraoi” for mwaneaba’s functions are held annually. On such occasions, names are called within the community where the head of a household presents the biggest corm from his swamp taro plant to be scrutinized by all. (A mwaneaba is like a meeting hall; it’s a big square house for community meetings and open on all sides and can accommodate hundreds of people).

Furthermore, over 300 hundred food crops, leafy vegetables, fruits, roots or corms are all grown in a small space which are available all the time to feed Barenaba Itaia’s family. Money is not lacking either. People in his community and from afar buy fresh vegetables from his farm. The couple provides cuttings to other famers free of charge and even shouts his surplus crops. Barenaba’s indigenous swamp taro farm is one of the most successful and sustainable farms on Nonouti Island.

“Where there’s a will; there’s a way”, he says.

                                                        

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By:     TokintekaiBakineti – Manager Component 2
    Rosalind Kiata – Communication and Knowledge Management Officer

MAURI MAURI MAURI

In Kiribati, people do not think consciously about their health in relation to the food they eat.
“What I eat does not matter, as long as I stop going hungry.” An old man argue that hunger should not overtake you but you should be able to know your way around it.
 “Give your stomach a piece of coconut and a cup of water and there you go!”
 This classical and stronghold on cultural believes shaped the way I- Kiribati people manage their life and also influences the choice they make on the type of food they eat.
From a cultural point of view, people in Kiribati perceive food as something only serving to satisfy their hunger which contradict the nutrition stance on food. This clearly explains the underlying reason why people in Kiribati do not worry much about the food they eat.
Starting from childhood, when a girl reaches her maturity stage, had her first menstrual period, she is treated culturally in such a way that this girl will grow up and be able to survive on minimal amount of food. This is one very important cultural expectation of a woman as her role is to feed her husband and kids first and prey on the left overs.
A man on the other hand, provides the family with his bounty which is a show-off of a manhood and skill. In the absence of a proper food storage, people are very fond of eating preserved food such as sun dried fish which sustains the family for a week or so, preserved toddy; a very delicious and sweet drink sweetener, preserved breadfruit and so forth.These foods may have possibly lost their nutritive value after being exposed to direct sunlight and a prolonged storage period.
Consequently, these food products may have possibly be hosting some micro-pathogens and other form of micro-life often detrimental to peoples’ health. Such eating habit needs to be reversed to change peoples’ mindset and practice to resort to eat more nutritious food to lead a healthy eating lifestyle.
In 2014, the IFAD funded Outer Island Food and Water project is implemented in Kiribati with the ultimate aim which aiming to improve the local diet through the consumption of a healthy food and clean drinking water.This project is implemented on the four outer islands namely Abemama, Nonouti, TabNorth and Beru.
In the start-up of the project, a baseline survey was carried out in 2015 to determine the nutritional status of children under the age of 5. In the survey report the result shows that boys were more underweight (13%) than girls (10%). The overall rate reported was 11% of all children under 5 years were underweight and this is much lower than 24% as reported in the 2009 DHS.
However, the baseline survey result of 11% is still a public health concern. In terms of food security, the survey shows that people eat grains quite more often than greens, vegetables and fruits which are rarely eaten only occasionally.
Overall, the report shows that the diet for the 4 project targeted islands of Abemama, Nonouti, Tabiteuea North and Beru is inadequate.
Based on the aforementioned issues reported on the poor health status of the people on the four islands, the project moves forward implementing a strong nutrition promotion campaign through media awareness, community nutrition education program, cooking demonstrations and a strong message on home gardening to provide availability and accessibility to crops and plants promoted. 
The Nutrition Unit of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, Agriculture Division of the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Agriculture Development and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research funded Soil Health project plays key roles in this implementation undertaking. The nutrition unit provides expertise on the nutritional education program which complemented with a cooking demonstration, the Agriculture Division plays an advisory role in home gardening while the ACIAR – funded soil health project conducted a research support in analysing nutritive content of locally available leafy vegetables and developing information on edible leaves, production methods and extension service through a Farmer Field School. While there is a diversity of programs emanated from the role these key individual partners play in this program, the Outer Island Food and Water Project (O IFWP) take a one-team approach where all these different key players’ programs are implemented in parallel to each other to allow all project staff to involve.
In Quarter 4 of 2016, all OIFWP staff including representatives from the Agriculture Division visited all communities at TabNorth Island for the implementation of the nutrition and home gardening program.
During this visit, the whole team split up into different groups and each group visit registered household particularly and assist in demonstrating compost making, preparation of vegetable beds, planting holes for fruit trees (short and long term) and providing advice mainly on the services IFAD - OIFWP is providing.
The nutritionist was unavailable during the launching of this nutrition program but was supposed to be represented by the Medical Assistant on the island.
However, there was a clash with other medical programs happening concurrently that prevent the participation of the Medical Assistant in this program.
This issue was resolved with Medical Officers at the Medical Head Office in Tarawa and ensures that nutritionist join the trips to the rest of the islands.
The ACIAR team were also on the island at the same time where they run Farmer Field School, introducing tissue cultured planting materials and set up trials at the selected sites within the communities.
The nutrition program implemented on the rest of the islands is all similar where a one-team approach was taken. The nutrition program was conducted in maneabas in parallel with home gardening which are happening at the same time.
In this program there was a discussion on the nutritional value of edible local vegetables followed by a cooking demonstration, weighing of infants and checking the blood pressure of people with hypertension records.
Diabetic screening was not conducted due to the shortage of proper equipment and materials which was a major and continuous problem faced by Medical Assistants on the 4 islands.
The table below present project target versus the achievement made so far on the number of people attending nutrition awareness program.

Date Island Project target Achieved 2016 Achieved 2017 Accumulative
5 - 9th December, 2016 TabNorth 889

432 (102 women, 180 men

15 youths)

 

432 (102 women, 180 men

15 youths)
6 - 15th February, 2017 Beru 889  

157 (77 men, 89

women)

157 (77 men, 89

women)
22nd Feb - 8th March 2017 Abemama 889   194 (72, 122 women) 194 (72, 122 women)
20th - 30th March 2017 Nonouti 889   193 (111 women,71 men, 11 youth)  
23rd - 29th April 2017 Abemama 889   245 (197 women, 48 men) 439 (120 men, 299 women)
24th April - 1st May 2017 Beru 889   142 142 women

 

The last column in the table above for Beru showed a decline in the number of people showing up for nutrition programs compared to the second column for the same island.Health data for the remaining 3 islands are not available
A second nutritionist visited the island 2 months later with findings listed in the table below.

Under Weight Healthy Weight Over Weight Obese
12 42 30 58

Nutrition activities done on the islands:
o    Awareness on child health, NCD,  the importance and the nutrition values of fruits and green leaves and vegetables especially local ones and  portion size.
o    Weight checking for community members that are coming,  I did a counseling with those are underweight, overweight and obese.
The next round of this nutrition campaign program has started and have started off on Abemama Island where the team consist of an ALD representative together with nutritionist and Component 2 manager implementing the program targeting women.
The existing women structures on the island are the focus with a strong emphasis on the application of the concept of the consumption of locally available edible leafy crops which are more nutritious, easy to grow and quite abundant on the island.
Conversely, the value of these traditional crops are shadowed by the popularity of imported vegetables which are believed to be of low nutritional value. The associated traditional beliefs and ideologies on eating greens and leaves may be a factor that influences the choice people made on this traditional crops. In the local traditional context of eating leaves, leaves are normally a diet of pigs which can explain why people choose to take the pain to grow imported vegetables which are difficult to grow under the local environmental condition.
The ACIAR has identified a list of nutritious local leafy crops which are now promoted by OIFWP to be part of the diet. The list of some of these local leafy vegetables is listed in a table below;

Crop Scientific Name   Kiribati Name
Drumstick Moringaoleifera High in vit.A, protein, sulphur, selenium Te kai turam
Mota Amaranthusspp High in protein, vit A, magnesium, calcium, zinc Te mota
Hedge panax Polysciusspp High in zinc Te toaraa are e mangkoko baana
Beach cowpea Vigna marina High protein, iron and zinc Biin (te ruku)
Kangkong Ipomeaaquatica High in iron, manganese, copper Kangkong
Ofenga Pseuderanthemumwhartonianum High in magnesium, calcium, lutein Iamaii
Kanawa Cordia subcordata To be analysed but edible Kanawa
Buka Pisoniagrandis To be analysed but edible Buka

 

The above list will be compiled in collaboration with ACIAR for a reference to be used in the promotion campaign program.
Media campaign complements efforts on the ground. This media campaign was carried out by the Communication and Knowledge Management Officer who through radio and media programs informing the public of the OIFWP nutrition program as well as promotions of the consumption of healthy diets. The following are activities undertaken during this reporting period;
Recorded nutrition awareness campaign prepared by the project and played over the radio on a monthly basis in a drama form. The same nutrition information was repeated for a week with questionnaires answered at the end of the 5-7 minutes duration of the play each day.
Listeners who tuned in for the programs rang in to the radio station to answer questions ranging from project identification, nutritional questions on the functions of vitamins, home gardening questions on plants and many others.
The duration of the program played each day was 45 minutes.
The second kind of nutrition awareness program was the sponsoring of ‘News Bulletin’ by the project. The radio program involved home gardening related activities catering for a balanced diet, water-related activities and community news.
The radio awareness program was played 6 times a day running continuously for 6 days a week.
Press releases were also sent to the media in the form of radio news and newspapers:
Listed below are some of the radio program, drama and related news promoting nutrition and project activities:
Nutrition information were relayed in the pre-recorded radio programs. Information were based on expectant mothers, which foods are best for them, nursing mothers, 6-month old baby when they start their first meal.
As mentioned earlier in this report, nutrition awareness campaign started off from home gardening. A balanced-diet needs all sorts of different plants for their leaves, tubers, corms and fruits, and other plants such as breadfruit tree, Fictustectonius, morinda, coconut trees and whatever was available nutritionally.
Compost making was also shared with leaflets distributed to communities and broadcasted.
The information was shared in the nutrition campaign and also shared to people with Non-Communicable Diseases including heart-related cases.

An example (above) of a nutrition poster depicting different kind of foods as a training guide.

Training materials such as posters on locally available foods on nutrition education were shared and distributed to participants composed mainly of mothers who attended cooking demonstration sessions.
The first cooking demonstration was for 6months to 5-year olds while the second demonstration was cooking for the Non-Communicable Diseases.
Local edible leafy plants with a high proportion of vitamins and minerals such as hedge panax (Polysciusspp), Cordia subcordia,chaya(Cnidoscolusaconitifolius), drumstick (Moringaoleifera), beach cowpea (Vigna marina), and Pseuderanthemumwhartonianum were used as ingredients for both cooking demonstrations.
Coconut cream was used as substitute for cooking oils and both recipes were sugar and salt free.

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Kiribati; a tiny nation with the population of 113,000 people (2015 census) living on lands inherited from their forefathers. Unlike other soil nutrient-rich countries, Kiribati struggles to achieve food sufficiency at the national level due to the complexity of the growing factors that together make household gardening activities a daunting task.

People in this context do not plan food production with time. The sea provides an abundant protein source with full access by people whereas carbohydrates on the other hand are sourced from land available resourcesdeliberately planted and managed in a very challenging growing environment. Because of all these constraints, there is always a gap in the food production cycle – that is filled by purchased or imported goods. This convenient food supply has a place during the times of hardships, however, it is now replacing traditional food production system and becoming the main stream, thus heightening the dependency on imported food.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) supported Outer Island Food and Water project came in to support people in their endeavour to improve their health through the consumption of healthy food and drinking clean water.

This project is working to tackle this food production issue through changing peoples’ mindset by creating awareness of the detrimental effects of these diet choices present, sensitizing and mobilising them to actively participate in the village household gardening program.The main outcomes of this component is to enhance household production of local fruits, vegetables, root crops and improving dietary habits of communities through consumption of a higher proportion of calories and nutrients from traditional food crops.

Nutrition Awareness Campaign has taken place where home gardens are being established by communities in all villages. Local fruits, seedlings of leafy green vegetables transplanted to other communal plots, root crops and other species of bananas, sweet potatoes and cassavas are being trialled on all project islands.

The Nutrition Campaign Activity was launched late in 2016 with the aim that when the project comes to an end, communities on the project islands will continue to be healthy by consuming fresh produce readily available from their home gardens.

Members of communities targeted range from the unborn foetus in a pregnant mother and anyone living in that island or community, from children to old people.  Handicapped and mentally-challenged people and other disadvantaged people are all part of the community.
It’s also envisaged by the donor that the targeted number of households will consume healthy diets produced locally from their gardens. Added to that is the consumption of clean water from water structures that the project is also constructing in the villages.

Numerous cultural factors constrain household gardening efforts. This brings to the surface a clear and visual understanding that Home gardening is not just for growing crops in the local context in Kiribati.It is more than that. People do not see agriculture (home gardening) as a possible solution to their problems. Consequently, food security is becoming a major challenge that builds on the four pillars of food availability, accessibility, nutrition and variability. Household gardening contributes substantially to the four pillars by providing available food source, physical access and the nutrition-rich food source from the garden.

Traditionally, the culture of building ones’ self-pride and position in the community through the acquired skills in maintaining food sufficiency at a subsistence level has shifted to a cash economybehaviour which describes the paradigm shift from eating locally grown food to imported food. The convenience of imported food over locally grown food has influenced our choice and disregarded the significant values traditional food has in the traditional cultural environment as well as in the local economic context.

To reverse the trend, one has to realise the complexities of dealing with human behaviour which controls the consumerism behaviour and the choices we make. In order to improve household food production, there has to be an element of economy attached while the overarching benefit an individual will gain from the consumption of healthy diets is always undermined. The interaction of these factors; humans x plant genetic make-up x environment is only one side of the coin in the food production system whilst, there are also other contributing factors that are specific to the local context.

Numerous cultural factors constrain household gardening efforts. This brings to the surface a clear and visual understanding that Home gardening is not just for growing crops in the local context in Kiribati.It is more than that. People do not see agriculture (home gardening) as a possible solution to their problems. Consequently, food security is becoming a major challenge that builds on the four pillars of food availability, accessibility, nutrition and variability. Household gardening contributes substantially to the four pillars by providing available food source, physical access and the nutrition-rich food source from the garden.

Traditionally, the culture of building ones’ self-pride and position in the community through the acquired skills in maintaining food sufficiency at a subsistence level has shifted to a cash economybehaviour which describes the paradigm shift from eating locally grown food to imported food. The convenience of imported food over locally grown food has influenced our choice and disregarded the significant values traditional food has in the traditional cultural environment as well as in the local economic context.

To reverse the trend, one has to realise the complexities of dealing with human behaviour which controls the consumerism behaviour and the choices we make. In order to improve household food production, there has to be an element of economy attached while the overarching benefit an individual will gain from the consumption of healthy diets is always undermined. The interaction of these factors; humans x plant genetic make-up x environment is only one side of the coin in the food production system whilst, there are also other contributing factors that are specific to the local context.

These kind of friendly-user cooking recipes are expected by the project to be sustainable and have a healthy impact on more than 11,000 people living in the 4 project islands.




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The IFAD Newsletter for the first quarter for 2017 is now ready for download in the Download section.

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The Outer Island Food and Water Project - an IFAD funded project was opened on the 12th of September, 2015.

Present during the ceremony was Honourable Tiarite Kwong - Minister for Environment, Land and Agriculture Development and representatives from IFAD - the International Food and Agriculture Develoment in Fiji.

Plans for visitation of the Outer Islands to be covered in the scope of the project will commence in the following months. Outer Islands to be visited are Abemama, Nonouti, Tab-North and Beru.