Most are not aware that the Land Grant program has been around in the RMI since 1982 and is one of three Cooperative Research and Extension programs in the Freely Associated States — Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands — funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture under the US Department of Agriculture.
On a recent tour around the campus, Dean Stanley Lorennij admitted to the Journal that he himself was not aware of this until he took over management of the CMI program at the Araak Campus recently. Land Grant also serves people in the FSM through the College of Micronesia and Palau through Palau Community College.
As the name suggests, Land Grant utilizes federal grants to focus on food security and economic development from land and sea. The divisions that make up Land Grant include food safety, water quality and climate change in addition to agriculture and aquaculture. The aquaculture division recently certified 10 trainees from Mili and Aur in clam and rabbit fish aquaculture, respectively, demonstrating the extension part of the Land Grant program.
Extension follows the success of research at Land Grant. Aquaculture extension agent Foster Lanwe, who was previously agriculture extension agent, told the Journal that their target is to share their research to improve life at no cost to people in the community. Lanwe has worked with individuals, local farmers, communities, atolls and businesses.
The Land Grant program benefits school gardens in both public and private school as well. As such not only are students taught how to enrich the soil and grow plants, they also learn how to harvest their own lunches. “There is a difference between theory and practice,” Lanwe said.
Current agriculture extension agent Luke Langmos has handled his post for four years. Extension is not just sharing but also providing technical support and outreach, he said. In collaborating with other non-profit organizations they are able to get more done. A prime example is the 150 breadfruit seedlings that were planted in Mejit with help from the Marshall Islands Conservation Society.
However, nutrients in the soil wearing out and coral reef bleaching are some of the emerging issues related to changes in climate and warming water temperatures. As a result Land Grant has had to find new methods to make agriculture and aquaculture possible.
Read more about this in the September 13, 2019 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.