Grow Low Campaign

Terrestrial Program | Comments Off on Grow Low Campaign

From a terrestrial standpoint, the greatest threat to biodiversity in Pohnpei is the illegal growing of sakau (kava or Piper methysticum) in the Watershed Forest Reserve (WFR). Sakau is used to produce a traditional beverage with a calming effect, which has been widely consumed in Pohnpei and other South Pacific islands for centuries. Once restricted only to the aristocracy, this root drink has become so popular in Pohnpei it is drunk nightly all over the island. Traditionally the crop was grown mainly in the lowlands, however the demand for this crop has become so high that people are increasingly moving illegally into the WFR and clearing trees to plant sakau. Sakau farmers move to the WFR because Sakau grows faster there than in the low lands enabling farmers to meet the high demand for the crop more quickly.

In 2002, CSP spearheaded an alternative income-generating program call the “Grow Low Campaign” in an effort to reduce farming of sakau in the upland WRF. Farmers are taught techniques for growing sakau in the lowlands and are given sakau seedlings to start their lowland farms. The incentives offered by this program, in conjunction with a strong compliance program have proven to be very effective in decreasing the new number of new forest clearings from over 600 in 2002 to only 5 in 2007. In 2004, CSP put the Campaign on hold to assess its effectiveness. In 2007, with generous support provided by the Micronesia Small Grant program, CSP restarted the Campaign adding the element of vegetable seedling distribution to hard core sakau farmers as a means of generating income in a shorter period of time. It is envisaged that this project will bring sufficient income and better nutrition to sakau farmers, as well as significantly reduce the number and size of forest clearings in the Watershed Forest Reserve.