Vila Times

Experts: Vanuatu farmers focused on growing cash crops too much

Vila Times’s Mobile Application

A Vanuatu Government trade official studying in the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia has taken the results of his food security research to Vanuatu’s Agriculture Minister.

Jimmy Rantes, 41, who is Vanuatu’s Director of Trade, recently discussed his preliminary findings with Minister of Agriculture Matai Seremaiah at a public and industry event at Southwest Bay on Malekula Island, Sunshine Coast Daily reports.

Mr Rantes has moved to Parrearra while studying his MA at USC and will return to his government role on completion of his degree next year. He conducted fieldwork on the diversity of crops grown in three Vanuatu communities and was pleased to hear the Agriculture Minister’s speech then outline the implications of the research.

“My fieldwork identified an emphasis on growing kava as a cash crop, rather than growing traditional root crops such as yams and taro,” Mr Rantes said.

“This is resulting in the increased dependence of rural people on eating cheaper, imported rice, bought with cash earned from kava sales.”

USC Professor of Geography, Patrick Nunn, is supervising Mr Rantes’ degree and said his findings were significant for that nation’s future food security.

“It illustrates the importance of rural communities not focusing on cash crops to the exclusion of subsistence crops,” Prof Nunn said.