Vanuatu hosts first-ever Island Cabbage Field Day to promote crop diversity

The first- ever Island cabbage (Abelmoschus manihot) Field Day was held recently at the Tagabe Agriculture farm to promote crop diversity, especially island cabbage.

Vanuatu’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) organises field days as a platform to dialogue and exchange valuable information with famers.

Over 20 selected farmers around North and East of Efate had the opportunity to be part of the field day and were fortunate to be the first farmers to be introduced to 21 different varieties of island cabbage.

Island cabbage is a leafy vegetable that has become part of the food culture in Vanuatu over the years.

“Today you will witness the work that the DARD is doing to promote the diversity of island cabbage according to government policies to promote healthy food, food security and income generation,” Acting Director for DARD, Mark Vurobaravu said.

“Field Days like this is significantly important as it is a platform where farmers interact with Technical Officers to acquire new information and new agriculture technology.

“It is a method used by DARD’s extension services to enable farmers to have direct access and face to face interaction with technical officers.

“Promoting the diversity of island cabbage is part of a project called Small Island Developing States (SIDS) funded by Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

“Today climate change is seen as a huge challenge. While we grow our crops, we also need to adapt to problems caused by climate change.”

SIDS project officer, Fernand Massing , who is the Fruits and Spices officer in the  DARD said, “The SIDS project aims to increase and improve provisions of food and services from agriculture planting materials.”

The three project sites namely Efate, Malekula and Mota Lava, have different activities according to the needs of each islands.

“The project profile for Efate (Tagabe Agriculture Farm) is to identify different varieties of island cabbage and identify an off season variety of sweet potato (Kumala).

“There are 21 varieties of island cabbage planted and trialled off season sweet potato that was harvested early this year.

Tari Molisale, DARD’s Root Crop Specialist was flown in from Santo to be able to share important information on island cabbage with the farmers.

“It is important that farmers know about the different varieties of island cabbage and groupings, the life of island cabbage, how to create new varieties of island cabbage, its nutritional value for our bodies and pests and diseases.

“In Vanuatu, we have over 140 varieties of island cabbage and are classified into three groups. Within those groups, we have many kinds of island cabbages.

The farmers have expressed that other varieties of island cabbage need to be promoted and make known to consumers. Consumers tend to like island cabbages with big leaves more than other varieties with small leaves and red in colour.

Photo supplied Caption: Root Crop specialist Tari Molisale explaining different varieties of island cabbage


Tensly Sumbe