A village in Western Province has proven it can plant and harvest local food crops even if the plants are not native to the region, to promote a healthy, balanced diet.
Under the guidance of the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) Middle and South Fly Health Program (CMSFHP), Kiru village has identified and planted a variety of food crops since 2015.
Kiru is located in the Suki Fly Gogo region in the South Fly District. The region is mainly swampland and waterlogged with the staple foods being sago and fish. However, last year, CMSFHP Health Promotion Officer Cyril Yama challenged the village to plant a variety of food crops which can give them a healthy, balanced diet.
“These people and many in the Western Province population rely on sago and fish which is readily available but we encouraged them to try to plant different crops too,” Yama said.
In line with the Healthy Village Concept, the village identified and planted crops such as sugarcane, corn, banana, pumpkin, cassava, beans, chilli and greens like aibika.
“These crops can grow anywhere regardless of climate and soil type and also provide a healthy alternative to their staple food and they have a lot of these gardens in the village now,” Yama explained.
While the CMSFHP team was visiting, the women and girls assisted in the harvesting of some of the crops for a demonstration on grouping the food into the three main food groups before it was prepared for consumption.
Mr Yama said Kiru is one of the first villages to adopt this food garden concept and adapt it into their lifestyle.
“Kiru has taken this on board and I hope to use them as an example to encourage other surrounding villages and along the Fly River corridor to also introduce this great healthy food concept,” Yama added.
Many villages in the CMCA catchment have already discussed and identified alternative food crops to plant in their own villages in the future, as this is both healthy and sustainable for the communities.
The CMSFHP is funded through the CMCA portion of the Western Province Peoples’ Dividend Trust Fund, managed by Ok Tedi Development Foundation and implemented by Abt JTA.