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Over fishing is harming corals and impoverishing communities. Fish are needed to keep corals healthy; to keep coral-killing predators and overgrowing seaweeds in check. Many communities in Fiji are setting aside coral reef areas into no-fishing Tabu areas.  Our goal is to assist these communities with alternative livelihoods and small scale free range poultry farming as a sustainable alternative food source.    

We have been able to develop a cross breed of chickens "super-jungli" from imported egg layers crossed with local roosters that is more productive than the local village chook.  We also have developed methods to improve local productivity.  So far we have been able to release at cost over seven thousand baby chicks and over 500 ducklings from our Sustainable Livelihoods farm in the Sigatoka Valley.  We have thus far sent chicks to Taveuni by air and chicks to Kadavu and Vanua Levu by sea.  We also sent along our special mobile rearing pens with the two seaborne shipments.  

The person receiving the chicks for Kadavu is Chief Yokimi, the paramount chief of Ono Island Kadavu.  Yokimi was instrumental in the establishment of Fiji's first legally gazetted no-fishing marine protected area back in the year 2000.  Yokimi wants to introduce community-scale poultry farming to all seven of his villages, in order to provide an alternative to reef fish, which in turn will help conserve the reef balance.  Happy chickens- Healthy reefs!  

On Taveuni island the Gaiatree Sanctuary brought the ten dozen chicks in and distributed them to four farmers who are very excited to have the improved "super jungli" free ranging chickens.  They share the same vision and will be facilitating the project on Taveuni, with another shipment to take place next week.  So we are on the way to poultry self-sufficiency in some rural communities, and all the farmers are planning to breed the chickens for themselves, creating independence, self sufficiency, and food security, rather than purchasing eggs from shops, which all come from laying hens imported to Fiji as chicks from New Zealand!  Note: Fiji imports over 20 MILLION baby chicks and fertile eggs from NZ annually, and in addition to cutting out the Fiji farmers from a major industry, these breeds are not well suited to Fiji's climate. 

In the Sigatoka market, farmers are reporting that their chickens have begun laying and some got a big surprize:  green eggs!   Yes, some of the chicks we provide are of a strain that produces light blue and green eggs!  The children are over the moon at something so cool!  The number of farmers coming back to buy more chicks at cost has increased, and the scale of the project has increeased as well.  Chicks are being donated discretely to needy farming families.  Ideally the farmer pays for one dozen at cost FJ $18/doz),

The next phase of the project in Fiji will target entire communities that are practicing good environmental stewardship, setting aside large areas of their coral reef into no take "tabu" zones.  The first of thee workshops will involve Votua Village, where Luisa has successfully raised up two dozen chickens, and where more women have asked for help getting started.  The mobile rearing pens and a small roosting and laying house will be used in this community to good effect. From Votua, the adjacent villages or Tagage and Vatukarasa will the be next.

Vanuatu:  The Vanuatu communities in the cyclone affected areas have organized themselves and many farmers have been identified with experience in poultry farming and these farmers will be given special focus for restoring their focks.  However last week we reached a major snag:  Vanuatu Biosecurity will not issue us with a permit to carry the chicks to Vanuatu on the plane, as they do not yet have a "formal protocol" for importing day-old chicks from Fiji!  There is no risk, as Fiji has no diseases that are not already in Vanuatu, but the regulations are strict nevertheless. 

They say it could take several months to approve a protocol, so in the mean time we have found a source of imported egg-producing chicks in Vanuatu.  We now plan to purchase these and to use them in the workshops and to grow them up and to then breed these chooks with the best local roosters, to be able to produce high quality hybrid chickens.  We will purchase small 75-egg incubtors for areas with dependible electricity. This will help build local capacity even further.  On the positive side, there is no time frame limiting the project, so we will indeed get what needs to be done completed in spite of all obstacles! 

The plan now is to land in Vanuatu in mid September and to meet with the communities and to begin the work as much as it is possible.  Building the mobile rearing pens and small chicken houses, working to create a local breeding flock, and building increased capacity among the farmers, etc. 

The potential for greatly increasing the scope and efffectiveness of the project is only possible because we are operational and not just talking- we are acting!  Thanks to each of our donors for helping make this happen... it means so much!  

We have surpassed the half way point to the project goal on Global Giving, with over $8,000. USD raised through your generous donations.  We received an additional check of $7,700. just last week by mail from the Ruth DuPont Lord Charitile Trust. We had been a bit worried that the ongoing Fiji work or several trips to Vanuatu would use up much of the Vanuatu funding due to the delays, but no more!  This additional gift is very exciting and encouraging.

If you have any questions or comments, please write me at: abowdenkerby@gmail.com

I thank each and every one of you.

Austin           

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Comment by Robert F. Kay on October 29, 2015 at 11:16pm

Great work Austin!  Keep us posted on projects like this.

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