PORT VILA: Agriculture is one of Vanuatu's most important sectors, yet one of the most vulnerable to climate change, because crops require optimal conditions to thrive. When climate-related extreme events like cyclones, flooding and drought affect soil quality and crop yields, they also affect the food security of the whole nation.
Giving Vanuatu’s farmers access to new tools with the ability to accurately assess how local weather and climate conditions may affect their crops is a crucial way of addressing this situation.
The Vanuatu Klaemet Infomesen blong Redy, Adapt mo Protekt (VanKIRAP) is doing just that by partnering with the APEC Climate Center (APCC) based in Busan, South Korea to expand the range of ‘agro-climate’ services available to Vanuatu’s farmers.
Over the coming year, new tools such as OSCAR - a crop yield simulator and a decision support tool for selecting crops and varieties to plant, and for choosing irrigation and pest control methods and fertilizer amounts will be released.
APCC is also developing an early warning system for extreme events likely to affect agriculture, based on the Vanuatu Meteorological and Geohazards Department (VMGD)’s early extreme weather warnings.
To make accessible to all, these tools will be released as web and mobile phone apps and information from them will also be available in other formats.
In support of this work, a delegation from APCC is currently visiting Vanuatu, led by APCC Executive Director Mr Do-Shick Shin, to see APCC and VanKIRAP's joint agricultural climate risk management initiatives in the field, and to discuss further cooperation between APCC and the Vanuatu Government in the area of agro-climate services.
Executive Director Shin held a high-level meeting Wednesday at the Grand Hotel in Port Vila with the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB) the Honourable Nako Natuman and a delegation that included the Directors of the Department of Livestock and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).
The objective of the meeting was to discuss the visions and goals of MALFFB for agricultural climate adaptation, and how APCC can contribute to Vanuatu's vision.
In his opening remarks, Executive Director Shin stressed the importance of developing agricultural climate information services for improving Vanuatu’s economic growth and food security, pointing out that “accurate, reliable and timely climate information” is key to improving the resilience of Vanuatu’s agriculture sector to extreme climate events.
In his official remarks, Minister Natuman thanked the APCC for their ongoing support to DARD and VMGD. He noted that APCC’s partnership with VanKIRAP is “highly relevant to Vanuatu’s priorities”, and aligns with Vanuatu’s National Sustainable Development Plan, Agriculture Sector Policy, and Framework for Climate Services.
Moreover, he says, better agro-climate services “benefit all communities and citizens” of Vanuatu.
Minister Natuman also underlined that APCC’s support was pertinent not just because of Vanuatu’s vulnerability to climate-related weather events and disasters, but also because Vanuatu is the “first small island state in the world to declare a climate emergency”.
The APCC delegation’s visit continues this week with high-level talks with the Ministry of Climate Change, and a hands-on training session with some of APCC’s agro-climate tools later in the week. The delegation then travels to Santo next week to visit experimental agricultural field stations, visit APCC farmer ‘champions’ near Luganville, and continues the agro-climate tool training with Santo farmers. The APCC delegation will conclude their mission with a visit to USP Emalus campus to discuss a collaboration with alumni on soil sampling.