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close this bookAgroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability (UNU, 1993, 297 pages)
close this folder7 Pacific Island urban agroforestry
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentHome-garden urban agroforestry
View the documentUrban agroforestry on undeveloped land
View the documentProblems of urban agroforestry
View the documentIntegrating agroforestry into urban planning and policy

Problems of urban agroforestry

Urban agroforesters in the Pacific face a number of problems. Unfavourable climate, poor soils, high cost or unavailability of land and water, insufficient time and labour, theft, and lack of government assistance were most commonly mentioned.

Problems of drought are severe in Port Moresby, and include high cost of water, distance of community taps, and water cancellations in Morata, and fear of City Council regulations against the use of water for gardening purposes between 8.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. Restrictions on the use of water in gardens are also imposed during periods of extended drought in Fiji.

Urban gardeners commonly have to contend with poor, infertile soils, such as the very poorly developed rocky or stony lithosols of Port Moresby, the shallow soils that overlay a marl substrate in Suva, hydromorphic soils in low-lying areas, and the notoriously infertile calcimorphic soils of Kiribati. Continual cropping on small urban plots also leads to declining fertility and loss of soil structure, unless ameliorative measures are taken. Both water shortage and poor soils, however, often make trees a more attractive proposition than shortterm ground crops, which require water and higher soil fertility.

Insufficient land and insecurity of tenure were problems in most areas, with over half of all households in Suva mentioning land shortage as a problem. Insecurity of tenure, especially in Suva, where a number of people had short-term leases or were squatters, is a major problem and a strong disincentive to urban agroforestry. City Council regulations, although not strictly upheld, were also considered a disincentive that discouraged cultivation of ground crops and trees along road frontages and the keeping of pigs, goats, cows, and horses within the city limits. Other problems included disease, insects, birds, rats, dogs, mongooses, and noxious weeds; theft of produce, especially of banana bunches and tree fruit (approximately one-third of all households had experienced theft); insufficient time; high costs of poultry feed and fertilizer; predation of firewood and deforestation on undeveloped urban and pert-urban lands, where most low-income families still depend on firewood to cook their meals (Thaman and Ba 1979); boundary problems with respect to ownership of crops; and neighbours' unfavourable response to gardening or livestock rearing.

In Kiribati and Nauru, where constraints to expanded home gardening are the greatest, the most significant problems are extremely poor soils, limited water availability, and extremely high population densities, especially in South Tarawa and at Location, the contract-worker settlement. Among the indigenous Nauruans, who are considered to be wholly urbanized, extremely high per capita incomes from phosphate royalties and a resulting overdependence on imported foods act as disincentives to expanded urban agroforestry.