Group highlights organic farming practices

MEMBERS of the Teitei Taveuni Women’s Group have found the answer to the island’s infertile farm lands through the use of organic farming practices

This was after members of the TTWG harvested their first taro crops, which were larger in size compared with the diminishing sizes that had caused farmers to shift focus to other commodities.

TTWG representative and Australian researcher Jo Dean said dalo harvested at group member Latai Smith’s farm was a remnant of dalo sizes that used to be achieved by farmers in the past.

“Dalo at Ms Smith’s farm was grown organically without the use of chemical weed control, as unwanted growth was all controlled by hand weeding,” she said.

“In terms of fertilisers, we had tried in 2014 with fish meal and rock phosphate as organic fertilisers.

“Vetiver grass was also used as mulch in her farm and it is cut every three weeks and laid on the soil to protect the soil from rain splash, at the same time adding organic matter for the soil microbes while reducing evaporation.

“If we can encourage farmers to leave surface mulch it has so many benefits, not to mention health benefits by not using harmful chemicals, and also environmental benefits by not polluting the reef.

“Weedicides like paraquat is banned in over 30 countries in the world because of its impact on human health but we continue to use it because of the need to produce more within a short time.”

Ms Dean said the end result was that the fertility of the soil was affected and farmers produced reduced sizes of crops.

Meanwhile, Ms Smith said she was happy with the sizes of her crop, adding that other farmers needed to think about their health and their environment and refrain from using chemicals on their farms.

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