$3 million soil project

AN Australian Government funded $A2.02 million ($F3.21m) project that will help Pacific Island countries and territories better understand soil and improve soil management was launched in Nadi on Monday.

Speaking at the opening of the Soil Management in the Pacific Islands Portal inception meeting, Australian High Commissioner Margaret Twomey said changing weather, including more frequent storms, floods and droughts were impacting soil health.

“Good soil health is essential for improving farm productivity and agricultural resilience on volcanic islands and sand atolls,” she said.

“However, at present, extension officers and farmers across the Pacific are unable to reliably ascertain the nutrient content of soils.”

Ms Twomey said the increase in commercial farming and intensified use of traditional gardening systems over the years had resulted in the depletion of soil nutrients, pointing to the fact that Pacific Island Countries and Territories had to increase soil knowledge to address issues.

In light of this, the Australian Government-funded Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) yesterday morning launched the Soil Management in the Pacific Islands Portal inception meeting.

The four-year project was aimed at addressing the issue of lack of soil knowledge in PICTs, identifying and addressing challenges surrounding sustainable soil management and developing the Pacific soil portal to establish an online portal dedicated to sustainable soil management data in the farming systems of the region.

The project was funded through ACIAR, led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and supported by SPC and Landcare Research NZ.

It will be rolled out in Fiji (Taveuni), Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa and Tonga.

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