According to Principal Agriculture Officer South, Peter Iesul, the local produce is a substitution for imported fruits and vegetables.
“Through the reports from the Statistics Office, it indicates that onion, potato, carrot and some other crops are imported mainly from Australia and New Zealand.”
Mr Iesul told farmers during the launching of sale of Epi onions in Port Vila that many studies have been done in Vanuatu and trials were implemented on Tanna, Efate and some other islands of Vanuatu.
“The results show that some of the crops can grow on our soil and our climate condition.”
Mr Iesul said through these efforts, the Department of Agriculture implements its key programmes, targeting high productive islands of Vanuatu.
“Some of the key programmes are potato on Tanna and onions on Epi,” he said.
The journey of local onions began in May 2018, when the former Minister of Agriculture, Matai Seremaiah, led a team to Epi, to launch the onion planting programme.
The island of Epi has proven that onions can grow well, with the active involvement of 15 onion farmers, who are members of Epi Onion Farmers Association that now form the Konara Consumer and Producers Cooperative.
The process of planting until harvesting of onions and seeking market opportunity is a challenge.
Mr Iesul said he is thankful now that the Ministry of Trade and Industry is working collaboratively with DARD, through the Vanuatu Cooperative Business Network, to assist local farmers find market opportunities for their products.
“The Department of Agriculture and Vanuatu Cooperative Business Network need to strengthen their relation and initiate a good program for potato and onion in 2019,” said Principal Agriculture Officer South, Mr Iesul.
The DARD’s focus for 2019 is to continue to identify farmers’ strength and assist them through training, quality seeds and agricultural inputs to boost production firstly to improve household food and nutrition and to domestic market.