Vegetable production on small farms in Pacific countries improves the nutritional status and security of these communities and enhances income opportunities for farming families. Most Pacific island countries are not self-sufficient in access to fresh produce to meet the needs of people in towns and cities, and fresh produce represents one of the few sources of cash income for many poor rural households in the region. There are substantial opportunities to improve supply to meet the existing demand, to the benefit of rural and urban people alike. This situation was identified in the ACIAR project SMCN/2008/008 ‘Increasing vegetable production in Central Province, Papua New Guinea, to supply Port Moresby markets’, led by Dr Colin Birch of the University of Tasmania, and also applies to other areas of Papua New Guinea (PNG) as well as countries such as Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji and Kiribati.
While vegetable production and marketing are becoming increasingly rewarding for smallholder farmers, they are also increasingly complex, requiring an understanding of production, post-harvest and business management. Training is an essential ingredient for empowering farmers to manage their farming businesses, and good training requires good resources.
This manual was originally developed as a project tool to assist vegetable farmers in PNG, and now incorporates elements of many ACIAR-funded projects in PNG, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. I hope that it will be of great assistance to trainers and extension personnel as they endeavour to improve incomes and nutrition in Pacific communities. Sadly, Dr Birch passed away during the final stages of preparing this manual.