A cassava field is one of several ways that a collaboration between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Adventist Development and Relief Agency is helping Fijian villagers become more self-reliant, according to the Church’s Pacific Newsroom.
Cassava is an important staple in many Fijian village diets. Cassava flour, made from the tuberous root of a cassava plant, is gluten-free, less prone to insects and can be cultivated on farms so that villagers do not have to purchase wheat flour.
The Church and the agency provided seeds and farm implements to plant and harvest different vegetables and plants, including several varieties of cassava, They then facilitated classes on understanding organic methods, how to care for crops, and how to harvest, dry and grind cassava into flour.
In a video posted on The Church of Jesus Christ – Pacific Area YouTube account, Aseri Bui shows how she and other Fijian villagers peeled the cassava tuber, dried it and ground it into flour to use in a banana cake. The skills they have learned have a big impact, Bui said.
“Most of the families here are not employed, but they are farmers. … These types of things help us with eating and planting vegetables. It really has helped us a lot,” she said.
“Demonstration fields,” such as the cassava field, were utilized to give hands-on training to people in producing a variety of vegetables, thus expanding their diet and nutrition.
Villagers were then encouraged to take what they learned and cultivate their own gardens at home. With donated packets of seeds, tools and their new agronomy instruction, families are raising a variety of vegetables in their own yards, such as tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, capsicums, green beans and more.
The hope is that families will become proficient enough to start small businesses selling surplus produce and cassava flour. It is estimated that the project will impact over 250 village families.