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Food Security in the Pacific

The world over, food production faces an unprecedented threat from climate change. On small islands, agriculture faces unique, additional challenges.

Fertile coastal plains, where farming is often concentrated, are also on the front line for sea level rise and coastal erosion. As the sea encroaches, soils are becoming salty and waterlogged. On very small islands, and especially low-lying atolls, moving farms further inland is not an option. On larger islands, moving inland and uphill often means destroying forests, with environmental consequences, such as soil erosion and stream sedimentation, which exacerbate the problem.

Traditional Pacific crops such as taro and cassava are threatened by changing rainfall patterns and salt-water intrusion into previously fertile land. For the many Pacific families living a subsistence lifestyle, the failure of staple crops is catastrophic, and in places where agricultural production is above subsistence level, the resultant earnings are often crucial for clothing and schooling children, and purchasing supplementary foods to ensure a healthy, varied diet.

In Papua New Guinea, drought tolerant crop varieties of taro, cassava, and sweet potato are being made more readily available through seed distribution.

An integrated approach in the Solomon Islands aims to implement permaculture practices to low lying areas including raising plant beds, mangrove replanting, rainwater harvesting, and soil improvement programmes.

-Text by Andrea Egan and David Angelson

Story Information:

Country: Solomon Islands

Topic: Agriculture/food security

Photo or video credit: Prospekt Mira

Text Credit: Andrea Egan

Date : 15 September 2015

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