FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Kiribati strengthens agriculture in the face of COVID-19

Agriculture and Livestock Division extension staff demonstrate to Taborio Community members how to marcott or air-layering pawpaw
15/12/2020 Kiribati

Enhancing food security, nutrition and resilience has never been more important in the small island nation of Kiribati than now – in the face of Covid 19 and its associated health and economic impacts.  With funding from UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN have been working across the agriculture and fisheries industries to strengthen food systems & supply chains in order to make safe, affordable and nutritious food available.

One such intervention has been increasing the training and support for local subsistence farmers in the areas of vegetable and fruit production.  In collaboration with Agriculture and Livestock Division staff, FAO have been running trainings since August 2020 across multiple communities in South Tarawa.  So far, 423 male and female community members have been trained in techniques for improving their household gardening. 

Tianeti Beenna, the FAO National Agriculture Officer (NAO) in Kiribati, explains that the trainings were tailored to meet the needs of those who were already doing home gardening but needed some extra input, as well as providing education for people wishing to begin home gardening. Delivery of imported planting materials to households were hampered due to lockdown so local fruit tree cuttings were used in trainings instead. Beenna observed that for some trainees, this was the first time they had been taught how to propagate through cuttings – vastly increasing their ability to expand their home gardens.

For other trainees, they have now been able to start home gardening for the purpose of providing fresh vegetables for their families as well as selling to their neighbours to earn cash to meet their basic needs. 

In addition, NAO in collaboration with ALD Extension staff, have been visiting various households to give advice on soil improvements including how to make or prepare their compost and liquid fertilizer to improve the quality of the soil and promoting selected easily grown fruit and leafy vegetable which are nutritious (baby cucumber, kangkong, spinach, Amaranthese or mota, namber pumpkin and pawpaw),

To support the learning from the training in an ongoing manner, FAO will be providing seeds and planting materials to the trainees so that they can continue to grow safe & nutritious foods for their families.   


The project - Enhancing food security, nutrition and resilience in Kiribati is funded by the The UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN COVID-19 MPTF).  The implementing partners are FAO (for components strengthen the food system to provide a stable supply of healthy and nutritious local foods and support livelihoods on fisheries and agriculture), UNICEF (for components on strengthen the capacity of the health system itself to identify and respond to nutrition related diseases and provide a supportive policy environment through the endorsement of nutrition and IYCF guidelines which incorporate COVID-19 and nutrition related emergency resilience

The UN COVID-19 MPTF is providing 150,000 USD (FAO), and 150,000 USD (UNICEF) for the short term (June – December 2020) emergency response project.

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