Community food security: resilience and vulnerability in Vanuatu

Type Journal Article - Human ecology
Title Community food security: resilience and vulnerability in Vanuatu
Volume 43
Issue 6
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 827-842
To study food production systems of six communities located on six different islands of Vanuatu we selected villages in zones of low and high population pressures. We measured land availability, soil fertility, genetic resources, average yields of food gardens, their plant densities, traditional knowledge richness (TKR), and household incomes and expenses. We analyzed a total of 224 plots belonging to 30 farmers and identified 13 root crop species with the total number of cultivars in communities ranging from 74 to 261. Surprisingly, villages under high population pressure have shorter fallow periods but higher yields. In both zones, women have higher TKR. In high population pressure villages there are signs of soil fertility reduction and mineral depletion but no signs of significant decrease in soil fertility after the first year of cultivation, indicating that root crop species remove limited amounts of total N and minerals per year. The purchase of imported foods is associated with a sociocultural change in diets rather than pressures on land or soils. Our quantitative and integrative methodology allows clear differentiation between villages under different pressures and can be used to assess levels of resilience and vulnerability.

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