Seed champions in Vanuatu aim for agricultural future

Participants visiting a seed multiplication plot of a locally collected eggplant variety as part of the Vanuatu seed systems training

Vanuatu is advancing its agricultural future through seed systems training. The Enhancing Seed Systems for Resilience, Livelihoods and Food and Nutritional Security in Vanuatu training, held 1 – 5 August at the Vanuatu Agriculture Research and Trade Centre (VARTC) on Santo Island brought together seed champions to enhance knowledge and technical skills on the production of quality seeds and planting materials of crop varieties. 

The training included participants from VARTC, Vanuatu Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, community-based farmers, seed NGOs and private organisations and was jointly organised by the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division (LRD) through its Pacific Seeds for Life (PS4L) programme, the Vanuatu Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, with support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

This training enhances the capacity of seed champions on quality seed production, characterisation and evaluation of crop varieties, as well as enhancing linkages among the seed champions for the development of sustainable seed system for the country,” said Alieu Sartie, SPC LRD Seed Systems Specialist. “Additionally, we are concerned about the genetic erosion of local crop varieties, and this will ultimately help with their conservation.”

Vanuatu’s seed systems are facing a number of challenges, including limited stocks, a need for better quality and higher-yielding varieties, and the development of stronger seed production processes. A consultation with Vanuatu seed stakeholders last year identified these challenges and system development needs addressed by last week’s training. 

Pacific Seeds for Life creates awareness and understanding of the importance of quality seeds to support resilient food production systems. This includes training to build the knowledge and skills of seed champions and stakeholders on quality seed production and conservation of plant genetic resources, in addition to working toward effective and robust seed systems through the establishment of seed networks in the Pacific countries.

Last week’s event was marked as a Training of Trainers, with the expectation that newly trained participants will then spread out to Vanuatu’s provinces to further increase the skills and knowledge of local farmers on quality seed and planting material production. PS4L plans to hold similar training in other Pacific countries later this year and into 2024.  

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