FAO project tackles vital biosecurity and food production in Tokelau

30 June 2017

Involving the three islands of Tokelau (Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu), a two-day workshop saw the launch of a significant new project entitled “Strengthening capacity in home gardening, healthy food awareness and effective biosecurity for Tokelau”.

The project aims to strengthen border control and biosecurity support services; build capacity of staff of the Environment Division of the Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment (EDNRE); and support capacity development of farm households in root crop, fruit tree and small stock production; along with improving nutrition awareness. The project is a joint initiative of EDNRE, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

About 30 participants at each of the respective islands attended the workshop, considering a partnership strategy and actions that would take place within the 24-month lifespan of the project.
Inception consultation with the Fakaofo Taupulega on 22 June 2017
Inception2-300Inception consultation at Nukunonu on 22 June 2017, attended by representatives from Taupulega, Fatupaepae and Aumaga Tokelau being an atoll nation faces considerable challenges to increase local food production and enhance food and nutrition security. Agricultural production in Tokelau is relatively small, comprising food crops and small livestock only, yet is important to the livelihood of its people.

Coconut constitutes the main food crop, while fish is the main local source of protein for the atoll communities (most food is in fact imported from Samoa). Land is limited; the soil condition is generally poor and lacks the nutrients required for successful plant growth, particularly of food crops.

Biosecurity of Tokelau is currently very weak, thereby posing a high risk to the country’s overall food security.

Agriculture and livestock in Tokelau face considerable challenges. Adressing these requires a collaborative effort between government and the local communities. The aim is to increase production while ensuring the sustainability of productive resources, land, and soils. A quality supply of produce is needed for home consumption and to supply domestic markets. Farm land in particular need to be protected from the harmful effects of plant and animal pests and diseases.
FAO through this project will provide technical assistance and support to the Government of Tokelau in strengthening the capacity of the EDNRE, village councils, and households. Enhancing food security and improve health/diet through revitalization of family home gardens is a priority.

The project is also expected to contribute towards “Improved food and nutrition security for the people of Tokelau”.

The project will be coordinated by EDNRE, whose Manager for Environment is the National Project Coordinator. It will utilize the services of international specialists in agriculture, livestock, biosecurity and nutrition.
Inception3-300Inception in session with the Taupulega of Atafu, Tokelau on the 23rd June 2017 Whilst attending this project Inception workshop, the UNDP representative had the opportunity to visit Tokelau with the team, to scope the possibility and interest of the community and village councils for a new proposal being developed by the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme.

The main aim of this proposal is to increase and encourage renewable energy generation through innovative technology and processes. It suggests the utilisation of biogas techniques as an opportunity to transform wastes (animal and vegetable waste) into energy. This would have multiple positive impacts in terms of waste management, generating renewable energy, and more generally reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint.

The Taupulega of Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu have shown interest in discussing further the possibility of developing biogas facilities in Tokelau. With the increasing number of inhabitants in Tokelau, biodegradable and non- biodegradable wastes (especially plastic) are increasing in volume.
During the visit, a significant storage of solid waste that is meant to be transported to  Samoa, was seen at a landfill site. It was also noted that many households are using costly imported bottled gas for cooking. UNDP will work closely with Government to submit a proposal to develop renewable energy in Tokelau.

Story and pictures by Loia Tausi
Department of Economic Development, Natural Resources and Environment
Contact phone: +691-22218
Email address: puavasa@gmail.com