FEDERATED STATES OF MICRONESIA
Eroarome Martin Aregheore
6.1 Improved pasture grass varieties
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) which comprises four states, namely, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap was created from the former US Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The country lies approximately between 1350 and 1660 East and between the equator and 130 North. The total land area of is only 4,840 sq. km. scattered over hundreds of thousands of sq. km of ocean and distributed among hundreds of islands and islets (see Figure 1). FSM includes the largest and most diverse part of Micronesia. The population tends naturally to be concentrated on the larger, high islands, though some quite small islands still support relatively large populations. The reported population of FSM in 2001 was 118,000 (Chuuk, 49 %, Pohnpei, 34 %, Yap 10 % and Kosrea 7 %) (Crocombe, 2001), although according to the World Factbook it has declined since,with a July 2008 estimate of 107,665 and a 2008 estimated growth rate of -0.191%. SPC (2008) estimates the mid-year 2008 population at 110,443, a mid-year projection for 2010 of 111,360 and an estimated growth rate of 0.4% in the 2008-2010 period.
The Island or state of Pohnpei is at 6054 N and 158014 E in the Caroline Islands group and is of volcanic origin and about five million years old. Rainfall is high and well distributed with an average of 4,820 mm and 300 rainy days per year (Lambert, 1982). At higher interior elevations, rainfall is estimated to reach 7,500 mm and the temperature averages 270 C year round and humidity is high.
The island or state of Yap is the westernmost state, consisting of the high island of Yap proper and numerous but smaller islands. All these Islands together are called Yap islands. Yap lies about 725 km southwest of Guam and about 1,850 km east-southeast of Manila in the Philippines. A fringing reef system about 30 km long and about 13 km wide at its widest point encircles this close cluster of high islands that has a combined land area of about 120 sq. km. (Young-Uhk, 1999)
Yap has a mean temperature of 24 - 300 C with an average monthly temperature of 270 C. Lying near the inter-tropical convergence zone the islands rainfall pattern is irregular. Yap is known as "the land of grass skirts and stone money". Agriculture is of subsistence type and the main crops are yam, banana, taro, coconut, citrus and cassava, Colocasia and Xanthosoma. The present vegetation of Yap is mainly coconut trees (Cocos nucifera),Pandanustrees (Calophyllum spp.), breadfruit (Artocarpus atilis) and small shrubs. Over the years agroforestry has remained the dominant system of food production (Young-Uhk, 1999).
The state or islands of Chuuk are in the central Caroline Islands of the west Pacific. The state consists of 15 island groups with a total land area of 188 sq. km scattered over an ocean area some 480 km by 960 km. The islands are surrounded by a barrier reef that is roughly circular in shape and is about 63 km. across. Chuuk proper is a complex group composed of 14 mountainous islands of volcanic origin, with a combined area of 72 sq. km., surrounded by a great coral ring which forms a lagoon of over 2000 sq. km. The outer islands of the state are all low islands or atoll. Most people live in small villages scattered along the shores of all the green islands so-called because there is a natural cover of dense tropical vegetation maintained by the high rainfall - that are in an area about 48 km by 19 km. Subsistence farming and copra production are the main agricultural enterprises. The main subsistence crops are banana, breadfruit, coconuts and taro.
The state or island of Kosrae consists of one large island and is the most easterly state in the Federated States of Micronesia. It is one of the most beautiful islands in the Pacific. It has an area of 109.6 sq. km and is mountainous and broken in the interior, but possesses four good harbours. It is forest clad, well-watered and is so fertile that almost any tropical product can be grown there. It has a population of 8260 (Crocombe, 2001, Douglas and Douglas, 1994). Land on many coral islets is sparse and generally infertile. Only coconuts and pandanus will grow without considerable efforts, while land on high volcanic islands, though fertile land is often steep and inaccessible. Agricultural productivity therefore is rather low, although in traditional times subsistence agriculture was the economic basis of society (Douglas and Douglas, 1989).
The population of ruminant livestock is scattered amongst the different states of Micronesia. Within each of the states, the cattle and goat population is however small. Table 1 presents data on livestock population and import of meat and milk products. Generally the country relies heavily on the importation of meat and milk products to meet local demand. FAOSTAT shows much higher numbers than those obtained from FSM or SPC. As the FAOSTAT data are probably too high the numbers are shown in brackets.
Figure 1. Map of the Federated States of Micronesia
Table 1 Federated States of Micronesia statistics of livestock numbers beef production, milk, beef and veal and other meat imports for the period of 1997-2007.
| 2. CLIMATE AND AGRO-ECOLOGICAL
FSM has a tropical maritime setting and diurnal variations in temperature are greater than between seasons. Most islands have a marked dry trade wind season from November to May and a wet variable season from June to October. Constant high temperatures and high humidity with very high average rainfall characterize the wet tropical maritime. Typical daytime maximal temperatures are near 300 C with minimum around 240 C. Generally, there are variations between one island and another in climate and agro-ecological zones (Asher Moses, personal communication). Below is a brief on Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap and Kosrae. In general, geography is extremely varied, ranging from isolated reefs and atolls barely above sea level to dramatic peaks of several hundred metres on the high islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae.
In the island of Pohnpei the climate is characterised by high rainfalls and high temperature. The average annual rainfall is 482 cm and the average annual temperature is 270 C. The rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year, although the average January to February is about 30 percent less than the annual monthly average. The rainfall in the higher elevations is estimated to be as high as 750 cm annually in the mountainous interior areas. Here the average monthly temperatures do not vary from the annual average by more than 1 degree, and the difference between the average minimum and the average maximum temperatures is less than 8 degrees throughout the year. Temperatures are slightly lower at the higher elevations. Humidity is very high throughout the year (NOAA, 1987).
Pohnpei Island is typically volcanic, with a majority of the land area characterized as steep and mountainous. Vegetation is mainly upland forest (55.5 percent) mostly in the interior. The coastal areas and lower slopes are characterised by agroforest (33.4 percent) and secondary vegetation (5.2 percent). Agroforestry has been expanding rapidly in the last decades, replacing forest and secondary vegetation. A barrier reef and a lagoon surround the island, with extensive mangrove forest development around most of the shoreline.
In Chuuk, the climate is chiefly influenced from November to June by the north-easterly trade winds. By about April, the trade winds begin to diminish in strength, and by July they give way to the lighter and more variable winds of the doldrums. Between July and November the islands are frequently under the influence of the inter-tropical convergence zone. This is also the season when moist southerly winds and tropical disturbances are most frequent. The humidity at this time is often oppressively high. Rainfall averages about 365 cm a year. The most pleasant time of the year is the relatively dry period from January to March when monthly averages are less than 21 cm and February is the driest month with an average of 15.7 cm. Rainfall varies widely from year to year in amount and in seasonal distribution. Annual totals have been as low as 300 cm and as high as 450 cm. Even in the drier season of January to March, monthly rainfall has been as much as 60 cm in some years, however, it has been less than 3 cm. Temperature is relatively uniform throughout the year varying 10 C from the averages for the warmest and coolest months.
In Yap, the main annual rainfall is 3,028 mm. As a high island, Yap provides for the collection of rainfall and the flow of water from uplands to lowlands and then into the sea. This has resulted in a series of natural habitat zones where rainfall is buffered and sediments and nutrients carried with freshwater runoff are filtered out into a biotic communities successively less tolerant of the situation (Falanruw, et al 1987; Falanruw, 1993; Liyagel, 1993). The climatic conditions present classical problems of how to use tropical soils without exposing them to erosion and nutrient depletion.
Kosrae, is a high island and its climate and agro -ecological zones are similar to those of Pohnpei.
SOILS AND TOPOGRAPHY
Soils can be classified into two major groups with slight variations between one island and another (Laird, 1983a,b). Under the two groups are various sub-groups.
A. Soils in coastal mangrove swamps, on coastal strands and on bottom-lands: The soils in this group can be both shallow and very deep and are somewhat poorly drained. They formed from inorganic deposits and coral sand. This group is used for the production of wood, coconuts and wetland taro and for urban development. The native vegetation is mainly mangrove forest, atoll strand forest and water tolerant grasses. Under this group are the following:
B. Soils on uplands.
The soils in this group are shallow, moderately deep, and very deep and are well drained. They formed in residuum and colluvium derived dominantly from basic igneous rock. This group is used for subsistence farming. Under this group there are the following soil sub-groups:
Soils in FSM vary widely in their potential for major land uses. In most of the islands in the Federated States of Micronesia, at least 30 percent of available land is used for subsistence tree crops, mainly bananas, breadfruit and coconuts.
The soils in Pohnpei generally have a clay-rich texture since they are derived from volcanic bedrock in a warm humid climate. However, on the steeper, upland hill slopes, soils can be quite rocky and in contrast, peat soils may form in the lowland swamps. The cohesion given the soil by their clay minerals tends to decrease their erodibility by overland surface water flow. The fertility of the upland soils is normally greater than in the lowlands (McKean and Baisyet, 1994; Laird, 1983a).
Soils in areas under agroforestry are characterized by Typic Acrorthoxes in the lowlands and Typic Dystropepts on mountain slopes, with a few small areas of Typic Humitropets (Laird, 1983a,b). Soils in the upland mountainous areas are generally deep and are limited by steep slopes and stoniness. These areas are nearly level or gently well drained. Low fertility and wetness are limitations. The bottomland soils are generally poorly drained and are limited by wetness.
|4. RUMINANT LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION SYSTEMS
Small and large ruminant livestock (cattle, buffalo and goats) are, found in varying numbers in the different islands that constitute the Federated States of Micronesia (refer to Table 1). Breeds of cattle are Brahman; Brahman crosses and other mixtures. These animals were imported into the territory some years ago. The Brahman breed was selected for FSM because of its short hair and tick resistance (Sproat, 1954). The size of the animal and rapid growth rate helped to naturally up-grade local beef quality and quantity. The production systems adopted vary from one island to another depending on the land area and the number of available animals. Data for numbers and production vary with source and FAOSTAT data (except for beef and veal and other meat and milk imports) appear to be too high with numbers carried through unchanged from 1995 to 2006.
However two production systems are in place government/commercial and subsistence or smallholder. In either of the production systems the animals are grazed under coconut trees to control weeds and for easy collection of nuts.
(1) Government/commercial farmers own ranches and coconut plantations where most animals were kept to produce stock for sale to retailers, restaurants and hotels, etc. This sector was highly organized in the production of cattle and goats for the populace but has declined as livestock numbers have decreased in recent years.
(2) The subsistence/smallholder livestock farmers keep most of the cattle and goats found in the Federated States of Micronesia. They raise their animals in pens, backyards and often on free range or tethered. Under this sector, animals are raised for family consumption and for festive occasions such as weddings, traditional celebrations, source of immediate income, etc.
|5. CONSTRAINTS TO DEVELOPMENT OF PASTURE BASED LIVESTOCK
|6. THE PASTURE RESOURCE
Right from the time of the previous foreign administrations, several grass and legume varieties were introduced to supplement indigenous forage feeds for livestock. The availability of grasses and legumes varies from one island to another.
6.1 Improved pasture grass varieties
Carpet grass (Axonopus compressus). This is a low growing, stoloniferous perennial grass. It is well adapted to a wide range of soils. It spreads both by runners and by seeds and is well adapted to wet and shady conditions. It is generally low yielding but grows well together with the legumes.
Elephant or Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum)
Guinea grass (Panicum maximum)
Para grass (Brachiaria mutica)
Signal grass (Brachiaria decumbens)
Other grass species found are Paspalum conjugatum, Oplismensus compositus, Paspalum orbiculare, Ischaemum cordatum, Bermuda grass(Cynodon dactylon) and Cyrtococcum patens. Of the grasses, Axonopus compressus is most widespread. Cattle do not like it, tending to graze on younger stems when other more palatable feeds are not available. Most of the grasses were introduced from Australia to FSM.
The use for green fodder of the leaves of sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), Noni (Morinda citrifolia) and Hibiscus tiliaceus are not uncommon.
6.3 Weed control
6.4 Recent initiatives in forage improvement
|7. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS
Division of Agriculture,
Department of Resources and Development
Palikir, Pohnpei 96941
Federated States of Micronesia.
Crocombe, R. (2001). The South Pacific Institute for Pacific Studies, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. 790 p.
Douglas Norman and Douglas Ngaire, (1989) Federated States of Micronesia.: In Pacific Islands Yearbook. 16th Edition. Angus & Robertson Publishers in association with Nationwide News Pty Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand. Pp. 69-85.
Douglas Norman and Douglas Ngaire, (1994) Federated States of Micronesia.: In Pacific Islands Yearbook. 16th Edition. Angus & Robertson Publishers in association with Nationwide News Pty Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand. Pp. 129-157.
Falanruw, M.C. Cole, T. and Whitesell, C. (1987) Vegetation types on acid soils of Micronesia. In proceedings of the Third international Soil management Workshop on the Management and utilization of Acid soils in Oceania. Republic of Palau. Feb. 2-6, 1987, pp 235-245.
Falanruw, M.V.C. (1993) Micronesian agroforestry: Evidence from the past, Implications for the future. Proceedings of the workshop on Research methodologies and Applications for pacific Island Agroforestry, July 16-20, 1990, Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Pp. 37-41
Lambert, M. (1982) Federated States of Micronesia. In: An overview of some Pacific atolls. Regional Technical meeting on atoll cultivation, Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia, 14-19 April, 1980. Technical Paper No. 180, South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia, February 1982. Pp 6-9.
Laird, W.E. (1983a) Soil survey of Ponape, Federated States of Micronesia. USDA Soil Conservation Service; 81 p w/maps.
Laird, W.E. (1983b) Soil survey of Truk, Federated States of Micronesia. USDA Soil Conservation Service; 65 p w/maps
Liyagel, P., (1993) Yapese Land Classification and use in relation to Agroforests. Proceedings of the workshop on Research methodologies and Applications for pacific Island Agroforestry, July 16-20, 1990, Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. P. 59.
McKean, J. and Baisyet, P. (1994) Watershed management of the Islands of the South Pacific: Tonga, Cook Islands, Pohnpei (Federated States of Micronesia) Palau. USDA Forest Service. UNDP/FAO South Pacific Forestry Development Programme, RAS/92/361. Field Document No. 5 November 1994. Appendix 6. pp. 86-105.
NOAA (1987) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Local climatological data: annual summary with comparative data: Pohnpei, Eastern Caroline Islands, Pacific. NOAA, National Climatic Data Centre, Asheville, North Carolina, 5 p.
Raynor, B. and Fownes, J. (1993) An Indigenous Pacific Island Agroforestry System: Pohnpei Island. Proceedings of the Workshop on Research Methodologies and Applications for Pacific Island Agroforestry, July 16-20, 1990, Kolonia, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia. Pp. 42-58.
SPC (2008). SPC releases latest Pacific population data.
Sproat, M.N (1954) Cattle breeding in the trust territory. SPC Quarterly Bulletin, July, 1954, Pp 17 and 20.
Young-Uhk, S.G. (1999) Traditional cropping systems, Techniques and Knowledge in Yap Islands, Federated States of Micronesia. B.Agriculture Project, The University of the South Pacific, School of Agriculture, Alafua Campus, Apia, Samoa. 57 pp.
This profile will be updated from time to time and was written by Eroarome
Martin Aregheore while he was at: