Creating food resilient gardens in a time of climate change

Action in Teptep

Located between Morobe and Madang Province, Teptep was one happy recipient of training, supported by EU climate change action. At the altitude of 2100 masl, the temperature is as cold as any highlands province in Papua New Guinea. Dare to say, crops as English potato, broccoli, garlic and even apples are growing there. Back in the days, Teptep was known for supplying fresh vegetables into the cities through Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), however due to high freight cost, the vigor died. At the Airstrip are remnants of the once was cool storage room.

The Action, made a visit on the 2nd of October to the site following a prior visit by the site coordinator and poultry scientist Mr. Elly Solomon. On this mission was EU Action Technical coordinator Crops , Mr. Jeffery Waki being the team leader with Mr. Arthur Roberts, aquaculture specialist and Ms. Miriam Simin, for Post harvest and food processing, with provided technical assistance from Mr. Phillip Lali. Present were 96 farmer village representatives inclusive of both genders, young and old.

Sweet potato and cassava flour processing taken over by woman

The farmers were separated into interest focus group, with representatives from each of the 10 Lutheran parishes equally distributing themselves in each of the three training groups. Monday began with farmer and trainer introduction, having the actual training with more practical demonstrations on the second day till to Friday. Most woman flocked to do Food processing, as this was initially voted for by them during the survey, seeing to most males being fared with crops and livestock.

Roots and tubers are highly perishable crops. Weather forecast used in ancient times by our forefathers cannot be depended on. How do we prepare in terms of food security to meet bad times ahead? Processing through food preservation hold the trick.

Farming practices for this area often involves slash and burn, cultivation and  fallow period for a few years before next cultivation. There are reserved farming land, on a ravine landform whereof is communal for cultivation.

This practice is susceptible for soil erosion eventually leading to loss of more soil fertility. Part of the training package, involved introduction of been seeds that serves the purpose of soil cover as well as for soil fertility. A good indicator proposed for testing soil health is to plant corn.

Corn health is a good indicator of soil fertility

Farmers were encourage to do mulching. In addition to prevent loss of soil moisture by direct heat from the sun, this can be of good cause by controlling weeds.  More to that, it will control leaching of soil nutrients. Farmers are encouraged to farm with and without mulch to observe growth progression in plants.

The training ended on Friday with presentations of AVRDC seeds, low cyanide NARI cassava and taro and basic food processing equipment as the mobile hand food grinder, grater, and dish. The knowledge attained from this training is of substantial value. Farmers were encourage to practice more to perfect the skills.

Pig silage in progress

High light of the event was the planting of wheat seeds sourced from Tambul,origin, China. Excited Lutheran Circuit appointed didman officer, Mr. Ano Dopoko said, “This is the first time wheat is planted in Teptep. We can now use the wheat to process into flour for food processing. Not only that, there will be no wastage because the bran can now be incorporated into our animal feed formulation to feed our livestock. “

Plans of training execution by this farmer TOT, headed by Mr. Waki, saw to each Parishes developing implementation plans for themselves.

Presentation of minimum farmer trainers starter kits to participants from each of the 10 parishes.

From reports after the trip, the farmers have head long gone into training others in the villages, starting with training members of their own household.