|Agroforestry in the Pacific Islands: Systems for Sustainability (UNU, 1993, 297 pages)|
|7 Pacific Island urban agroforestry|
The significance of urban agroforestry is not clearly understood by most planners and policy makers in the Pacific Islands because of a lack of quantitative data on its nature, extent, and cultural and economic value. However, interest has been shown by some city planners and administrators. In Port Moresby, for example, the Housing Commission conducted a survey of urban gardening in the early 1970s. The Committee on Food Supplies of the Solomon Islands (1974) conducted studies of the production of major staple crops (primarily sweet potato) in Honiara and stressed the need to increase production per head in both rural and urban areas, and Fitzroy (1981) pointed out the correlation between vitamin deficiency in '`urbanized" people and the absence of garden plots in Honiara. Further studies stressing the importance of urban home gardens in the Pacific have been conducted since the mid-1970s (All 1976; Basha et al. 1974; Harris 1977; Kesavan 1979; Thaman 1977a; 1977b; 1984a; 1985a; 1987a; 1988e; Vasey 1985; von Fleckenstein 1978).
There have been campaigns encouraging the cultivation of food crops in Port Moresby, and, in Fiji, the National Food and Nutrition Committee (NFNC) and The Fiji Times, through their "Feed Fiji First" campaign, have placed major emphasis on home food production and have sponsored competitions in H.A.R.T. (Housing Assistance and Relief Trust) destitute areas, schools, government housing areas, and agricultural resettlement schemes. Major emphasis was placed on the planting and maintenance of food trees in these competitions.
Similar interest in urban agroforestry has recently been shown in Vanuatu, Tonga, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, where urban food dependency and increasing incidences of nutritional disorders have become serious. These countries, along with Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Western Samoa, are now part of a Unicef-sponsored "Pacific Island Regional Family Food Projection and Nutrition Project" (Sommers 1990). In a course entitled "Agriculture, Food and Nutrition in the Developing World" offered at the University of the South Pacific (a regional university located in Suva but serving 11 Pacific Island countries), a major component of the course involves students in the development and maintenance of mixed home gardens; Tonga and Fiji have both promoted tree planting in towns as integral parts of their World Environment Week and Arbor Day programmes, respectively; and, most recently, the Honiara Town Council has actively and successfully promoted home food gardening through its Sup Sup Gaden (soup soup garden) Club.