PRESS RELEASE: Vanuatu Solar Food Dryers for Remote Shepherds Islands
Remote Communities in Vanuatu’s Shepherd Group undertake Food Solar Drying for Climate Change Adaptation
From the 21 November to 3 December 5, 2013 communities in the Shepherds Islands of Emae, Makira and Buniga were trained in solar food drying for climate change adaptation.
The trainings were facilitated by the SPC-GIZ Climate Change program with the support of SHEFA provincial councils, islands councils of chiefs, the Wan Smolbag Vanua Tai Network and the National Disaster Management Office. The workshops were led by four ni-Vanuatu experts in the solar drying process.
The chairman of the Emae Council of Chiefs, Mr David Roy, commented that “this is the first time that a climate change project has come to support the people of the Shepherds on food security AND help people to earn money which is usually very difficult to find on the island.”
The Shepherds Islands in Vanuatu are known for their bountiful harvests of fruits and nuts (like nangai, mango, coconut, papaya and tamarind), but climate change is threatening these very important sources of food and income. Climate change and variability are already affecting the timing and success of flowing and fruiting, causing trees to fruit early, late or not at all. The high vulnerability of our fruits and nuts to climate change make them a high priority for adaptation.
In the remote Shepherds Islands, very little value adding of agriculture products is done. For example, when mangoes are in season, there is no safe way to transport these fresh fruits to Vanuatu’s market centers for sale, and no economic benefit is obtained. The solar dryer technology provides a way store and preserve fruits, nuts and fish until such time when markets are available. The solar dryer also serves as an adaptation strategy for climate change as it can help communities store foods for use during cyclone periods.
The solar driers were set up on the islands of Emae, Makira and Buniga and officially handed over to the womens’ groups in these communities. Participants to the training workshops were diverse with women, girls, boys, men, chiefs and environmental monitors taking part. Most exciting to the participants was the production on “oh-my” lolies from paw-paw and soursop. The products were even tastier than the “oh-may” that can be purchased in the Chinese shops in Port Vila. Participants also learned how to dry fish, meat, nangai and pineapple.
A solar drier is a simple bed-like design, with a plastic sheet to keep products dry and sanitary. The drying process takes as little as 1 day with good sun and up to 3 days in cloudy weather. A drier can be built with widely available materials for as little as 25,000vt. A free Bislama-language manual on how to build a dryer and how to dry fruit is available on the web portal of Vanuatu’s National Advisory Board on Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction: www.nab.vu .
The Provincial Area Secretary on Buniga, Mr. Shepa Wilson, stated that “the people here suffer from so many impacts of climate change already, and now we are finally able to preserve and store our fruits, fish and nuts in preparation for when the ship will arrive. We need more programs like SPC-GIZ Climate Change to give us the chance to reduce the risks we face and also develop our communities into the future.”