Café Melanesia: Our Food, Our Lands, Our Future

The goal was for every Melanesian to assert their right to good health and nutrition through their own cultural food solutions, indigenous innovations, and local knowledge systems. The project was implemented by Save PNG Inc., to increase community health, food sovereignty and agro-biodiversity throughout the Pacific countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia.

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In collaboration with the Slow Food Melanesia network and regional partners, Save PNG produced one film per country, totalling five; and completed video editing of five 25-minute Café Melanesia episodes for broadcasting. Communication and educational kits complete with audio-video materials were produced to inform the youth, women and families about local medicinal foods, nutrition and traditional cooking to encourage community resilience in the time of climate change, and strengthen indigenous governance structures. A facilitator’s guide and study booklet on indigenous food pathways and agricultural innovations were printed and disseminated to both rural and urban populations in the five countries. Partner organisations in each country identified capable facilitators who trained target groups and distributed educational communications kits for them to use in their respective communities.

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In the process of building the capacity of partners to deal with the high rate of lifestyle-related deaths, cultural disintegration, and loss of traditional knowledge experienced by a majority of Melanesian communities in the Pacific Region, Save PNG laid out strategies to reduce the impact of challenges and risks such as firming up partnerships with various social actors and recognized authorities to ensure all content, structure, and images are appropriately presented in the materials. Additionally, free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) processes were observed for indigenous peoples’ awareness of their contributions, commitments, and rights in the project. 

To promote their work, indigenous food enthusiasts and local advocates of responsible food, health and community development were featured in the profile section of the project website. Language and cultural barriers that normally inhibited the presenters’ ability to interact and communicate effectively with identified talents and communities in audio-video products such as in French speaking countries like New Caledonia and Vanuatu were addressed with the presence of a video presenter who had good command of Pacific languages and English to bridge the gap.

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Save PNG’s collaboration with other like-minded people and organizations resulted in changing attitudes towards valuing healthy, good and nutritious foods in traditional culture. For sustainability, the organization will combine their advocacy efforts and promotion of indigenous food cultures through online web communities which are presently becoming the most effective medium to garner support, to communicate with and consolidate partners and stakeholders in protecting the rights of indigenous peoples in food health, nutrition and sustainable land practices throughout PNG and the Pacific.

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Save PNG Inc.’s vision is to see indigenous farming and culinary knowledge protected for future generations throughout the Pacific Region. Their mission to revive traditional agriculture, increase diet diversity, and improve the health, economic independence, and wellbeing of Melanesians is fast gaining ground and acceptance.  The Intercultural Exchange program is providing learning opportunities and fostering resource and local knowledge sharing activities for indigenous communities.

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Save PNG’s media program will strive to produce more audio-video materials and educational products with a strong focus on promoting good food health, nutritional security, and self-reliance among traditional peoples, particularly the youth, women and family groups who are now educated on the socio-economic, cultural and community benefits of sustainable food and indigenous culinary practices from a grass roots approach.

 

(The project  “Café Melanesia: Our Food, Our Lands, Our Future” was implemented by  Save PNG Inc. in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia in November 2018 with the support of PAWANKA Fund.)