The Future is Equal

Improving livelihoods in Vanuatu

Our livelihoods project in Vanuatu has been running for two years, with a focus on empowering farmers to improve their practices for a more stable income, more diverse range of food, and greater wellbeing. It’s thanks to your ongoing support that we’ve been so successful so far.

Programme location: Vanuatu.
Programme length: Five years.
Local partner: Farm Support Association (FSA).

Two years in, we’ve got many things to celebrate! Here’s our top four.

Sila Ambon, Pinalum Village, Malekula Island, Vanuatu. 31-year old mother-of-two, Sila, is the main farmer in her household – her husband works primarily in construction – and has been working with the FSA since 2012. After seeing the success that others in her village had had selling pigs, she decided to start her own pig farm. She now has 13 pigs and piglets, and sold one sow for 4000VT (approximately 60NZD) which she put straight into savings. Sila finished school at the primary level – but her goal is to earn enough to send her kids to secondary school, and hopefully further study after that. Photo: Anna Mosley

Through the Vanuatu Thrive project, we’re supporting a young farmers’ training course for 150 youth, and our first group of students have graduated from the course on Tanna island. At their graduation, the three young women and seven young men had combined total earnings of 610,500vt (about NZ$80,000). They also had over 7000 heads of taro in their gardens, over 200 chickens, and many other crops, livestock, and timber growing that will earn them money in the future. One of these graduates, Jimmy, has gone on to provide training to other farmers in his home village, where he has a vegetable nursery house, a fish pond, a piggery, poultry, beehives and a coffee plantation. The next intake was the highest ever seen, at 30 trainees (24 males, 6 females).

Another project goal was to improve the accessibility and affordability of materials for farmers on Malekula and Tanna islands, and vegetable seeds are now available on Malekula, and vegetable seeds, pig feed and chicken feed are available on Tanna. Having to get materials shipped from Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila, takes time, is susceptible to delays, and can result in disrupted farming. A local supply of materials means the essentials are available to farmers as soon as they need them. Once the seed sales are well-established on Malekula, our local partner will work with the supplier to expand into chicken feed.

Fruits and vegetables can sell for a lot more if they’re sold in the off-season, so we’re helping interested farmers get involved in this. Many have had great success selling pineapples in the winter, often for between 50VT and 200VT more than in the summer. Thrive farmers are refining their farming techniques so that they can sell cabbages at the beginning and end of the season when prices are higher.

Lisi Lingi, Larafat Village, Malekula Island, Vanuatu. Lisi is the lead farmer in her group and says her job is to give people the heart to work together, support people who are struggling, and keep people united. In September 2017, the FSA demonstrated how to grow pineapples in the off-season by applying a hormone to the plant, which Lisi is having great success with – selling them for a lot more than she can during the height of the season. The farmers in her village have also developed ‘bank gardens’ and any money they earn from these gardens they’ve committed to putting straight into savings for long-term community development. Photo: Anna Mosley

An unexpected success was that we spent less money in the second year of the project than we budgeted for, which means we’re able to use the money saved to further expand the project and reach an additional 150 farmers with training and services.

The results we’ve seen so far have been incredible – and we’re just getting started. We’re really excited to see how this programme develops over the next three years and we will keep you up to date. Lives are changing because of your commitment to and support of our projects – we hope you know just how wonderful you are.