USING unsustainable farm practices has been a way of life on Gau in Lomaiviti.
And it is this fact that has necessitated the training of 30 farmers on the use of sustainable land management (SLM) practices to conserve the nutrient rich topsoil and save coral reefs along their shore lines.
The farmers from Gau's three districts are being taught these practices, thanks to training organised by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-South Pacific staff and the Land Use Unit of the Agriculture Ministry.
The WWF said these practices included setting fire to clear blocks of forest for planting, use of chemical pesticides, weedicides and chemical fertilisers and continuously changing farm sites
It said as part of the training, the farmers were establishing two model farms to show how different ecosystems ù the land, the rivers and the sea ù were connected.
WWF-South Pacific policy officer Alfred Ralifo said the training would benefit the environment of the Gau islanders immensely.
"The SLM training will lead to conservation of soil, reduction in soil erosion and thus reduce the smothering of coral reefs.
"An important thing is the reduction of the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides that are usually washed off into the sea.
"With the adoption of SLM practices, Gau islanders can expect the health of their reefs to improve as there are less negative impacts from agricultural practices. The farmers will continue to produce organic products that have a higher market value and family health should also improve," he said.