Have you tasted breadfruit pancakes, taro oatmeal, lime vinegar, or even banana jam? These are some of the products Ebon Atoll is conjuring to be part of RMI’s daily food fare.
Ebon has been promoting local food security programs and agriculture marketing development projects since 2012 when Mayor Ione deBrum first took office. But these slowed the last couple of years due to lack of resources.
As of last year, new support came from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to help move the projects forward to become fully operational by the end of the year. “Thanks to FAO, the projects have speeded up,” said deBrum.
FAO Food Safety and Nutrition Consultant Ann Hayman, from FAO’s Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific Islands in Samoa, admired Ebon’s efforts to develop agriculture products led by deBrum. She confirmed that FAO’s sub-regional office oversees 14 Pacific countries, including RMI. Internationally, FAO aims to “eliminate hunger, food insecurity, and malnutrition.”
In Ebon, FAO has selected 20 households from the main island of Ebon and Taka, the second largest community, and supplied them with gardening materials to pilot a variety of crops. All other households will be provided with same materials by the local government so that “everyone moves forward together,” said deBrum. Harvested crops will be processed through outdoor and indoor means.
The completion of a Kitchen Center, left with a concrete floor since 2012, is being supported by FAO. It is near completion and is expected to start operation in September so residents have an indoor processing center for their products. The new center, with its associated processing equipment, is expected to lower the cost of production of local products, as well as to provide catering for the school lunch program. Two more centers for Taka, and Ene ko Ion (northern islands) are expected in the near future.
“The goal is to sustain the people on Ebon Atoll with food, nutrition, and eventually income,” said deBrum.
Training, healthy food education, awareness on non-communicable diseases, and trading practices are what deBrum is focused on. “Ebon is a good lesson for the RMI,” said Hayman. “The Ministry of Resources and Development also likes Ebon to be a model that can be rolled out to the rest of the country.”
Meanwhile, FAO approved national consultant Newton Lajuan will continue working with deBrum and Ebon.
Read more about this in the April 14, 2017 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.