TAVEUNI, long known as the Garden Island and home to about 3600 farmers, has begun to experience the impact of declining soil fertility on their livelihoods.
According to a statement from the Australian High Commission, many farmers involved in the lucrative dalo export trade are now seeing a decline in yields and a reduction in the size of dalo harvested from their farms.
"This soil fertility problem has the ability to impact on the long-term sustainability of the $15million/year dalo industry on the island," the statement said.
"Intensive mono-cropping of dalo and excessive application of fertiliser has resulted in destruction of soil structures and increased incidence of soil-borne diseases, which has seen a drastic increase in the rejection rates of Tausala dalo for export."
Now, rather than wait for things to get worse, stakeholders on the island have formed Tei-tei Taveuni, an association to advocate and promote improved farming techniques.
With the assistance of the Ministry of Primary Industries, Tei-tei Taveuni has been holding soil schools to help farmers better understand and diagnose soil problems.
The initiative has received a significant boost through a funding assistance of $490,000 from the Australian government.
In a collaborative effort between the Australian Aid Program, Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research and Australian Volunteers International, together with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Ministry of Primary Industries and Tei-tei Taveuni, a major research project has been commissioned to address the declining soil fertility and ensure long-term sustainability of agriculture production for farmers on the island.