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Kiribati

  • What and where is Kiribati?

    Kiribati is a island nation located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, next to boththe equator and international date line.

    This country is comprised of 33 small atol islands, only 20 of these islands are in liveable condition. Rich in culture and providing a home for 120,000 people, Kiribati is one of least developed countries in the world and is highly dependent on international aid for their economy.




  • Why Kiribati?

    BYU- Hawaii is a school that gathers cultures from around the globe, especially from the Pacific Islands. More than 600 alumni of BYUH are from Kiribati, including our current team member Kimberly Tokanang Aromata. Of this project she said:  

    “As an I-Kiribati, I see the need for the Re-Earth initiative to improve the health conditions for myself, my family, and community. We chose Kiribati because we have resources ready including 10 acres of land on Marakei, connections with several supporting organizations, the support and approval of the Kiribati government, as well as a passionate team to enforce this project. ”

    Kiribati needs this project,  and through our resources, we know that it is the PERFECT place.

     



  • How are you expecting people to afford your produce?

    ur crops are priced ⅓ of other current options because we avoid the 75% tariff and international shipping costs. As we sell, we will adjust to the local market trends in order to continually sell at a reasonable, sustainable price. We sell our crops to individuals but we also have 16  local restaurants , grocery stores,  schools and churches committed to buy our produce. 

  • Kiribati? Why is it spelled like that?

    In the Kiribati language, there is no letter “s”, the sound is represented by “ti” instead. Kiribati is actually pronounced more like “Ki-dee-bus”. 

  • Needs Analysis

  • How did you decide to start your project on Marakei compared to the many other islands in Kiribati?

    We conducted a needs analysis and found Marakei as the most fertile of all  the islands and therefore the perfect place to start the Re-Earth Project. Our analysis found that since Marakei is the second most populous island our co-op will have a vast market. Through connections we have and the research we conducted, we know our project can and will be successful on Marakei. 

  • How do you know that the people want this project?

    The connections, companies and citizens we have told about our project are so excited for the full-scale to pick up. They see and know the impact our project will have and the change Re-Earth will implement. They support this project and  are anxious for our expansion to other Kiribati islands. Their faces lit up at the possibility of growing their own vegetables, especially cucumbers.

  • Why is the support you have from the government so important?

    When conducting our needs analysis, we found that the Kiribati government tried similar projects. Their most recent attempted to restore soil to cut their dependance on imports, but only made it to the drafting phase, lacking the necessary funds and knowledge. Working with the government has allowed  us to better see the needs and situation of the people. Through the support of the government, we have been able to connect with more people, and companies validating the success our project will have.

     

  • How did you conduct your needs analysis?

    We conducted a needs analysis on 3 specific aspects of our project, the land, the people and the government. We made a survey that asked about their current situation and if they would want to implement this project in their lives. We researched and use our connections to reach out to as many Kiribati community members to allow us to fully understand that situation and modify our project so that we can best help this nation.

  • Sustainable Development Goals

  • What sustainable development goals do you seek to help?

    We set goals to help the people of Kiribati and other pacific islands. These goals include preventing poverty, and world hunger, providing clean, safe water, increasing economic growth, improving life on land, and fighting climate change. We meet 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve a sustainable global future.

  • How does your project provide economic growth?

    We increase financial stability and economic growth and increase the number of jobs in Kiribati. By introducing a new industry of commercial farming and teaching farmers, we are teaching new jobs to this nation. Healthy food in Kiribati is costly and unaffordable, so we will also be decreasing the economic instability that Kiribati faces.

  • Nutrition

  • Why is the health in Kiribati so poor?

    About half of the adult population face obesity, and 25% are diabetic. We surveyed a group of 7 young adults from Kiribati, and ALL of them personally knew someone who had died of diabetes. The malnutrition problem in Kiribati is no joke. The health crisis exists because there is no access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. The population must consume foods that are processed and highly unhealthy.




  • If the people of Kiribati have never eaten healthy, how will you educate them that they should eat healthily?

    The people of Kiribati want to eat healthily, but they don’t have access to any affordable healthy foods. There are times that there isn’t any produce on the island for weeks due to shipping and supply chain issues. Change in diet will not happen overnight, nor do we expect the people of Kiribati to give up their culture and lifestyle by force. We have partnered with schools that will start educating children about the importance of healthy, balanced diets. 




  • What does the current typical diet in Kiribati consist of?

    The typical diet in Kiribati consists heavily and mainly of fish, rice and canned foods. It is the same, bland food almost daily. With our project, they will have access to not only fresh vegetables, but also pork from the pigs that we will sell. We add variety and increase the health of their meals. 




  • Is diabetes really that big of a deal in Kiribati?

    Unfortunately, yes. We met with a group of 7 students from Kiribati, and ALL of them had a family member or close friend that had diabetes and died because of it. Malnutrition is a tragedy that many families face, and that can be reduced significantly by healthy eating.

     

  • Cover Crops

  • How do you turn sand into soil?

    Sand has no nutritional value for agriculture, but the Re-Earth Project changes this. We start by growing cover crops that prove to raise nitrogen levels by 1100% while adding organic material. Cover crops are used around the world to slow erosion, enhance water availability and most importantly improve soil health. 




  • How long is the turnaround time in actually turning the sand into soil?
  • What crops are you currently growing?

    In Marakei, we’ve planted our cover crops, sunhemp and cowpeas and started the soil  restoration process. With our newly vitalized soil, we’ll be able to grow our other produce including carrots, corn, green beans, cucumbers and other produce that the population want. 




  • Why are the seeds from Bangledesh so important?

    The novel, hybridized seeds that we received from a Bangladesh company are vital to the success of our project because the roots can withstand salt water, and the conditions of the Kiribati soil are naturally salty. This innovation will increase growth and allow us to use 70% less water and allocate our water toward other purposes. a

  • Pigs

  • What is with the pigs?

    Soil needs more than just the nitrogen and organic material to sustain growth. They also need potassium and phosphorus, which can be found in a resource that already exists in Kiribati. There are  14,000 poorly managed pigs that contaminate the water and fun around crazy. Re-Earth is about turning problems like this into solutions, We developed mobile  pig pens that will both keep the pigs out  of trouble while putting their natural fertilizers in our soil.

  • Will you have any competition selling pigs?

    There are very few places in all of Kiribati to purchase pigs, and even fewer on the island of Marakei. We  teach  our farmers how to use pig manure  and pig pens to  better their soil, so  we also provide our own bred pigs that will be used  as tillers until they can be bred or eaten by the farmers. 

  • What do you feed the pigs?

    The best thing about the pigs in our model is they require little more resources than the farmers already have. The pigs eat the cover crops, drink water collected from the water collection system the farmers have set up. The pigs eat the crops and fertilize the cash cash crops we grow. 

  • Why pigs?

    Our project's basis is to maximize the resources already on the island. And many poorly managed pigs already exist on the island that we use for their natural resource, manure, to put more necessary nutrients in the soil. We change problems into solutions.

  • Water Collection

  • How are you collecting the water?

    Our water collection system is a series of 10 tanks that will hold 26,000 gallons of water. The large roof structure allows for collecting, storing, and distributing over 73,000 gallons of annual rainfall. This system will be one of the largest water collection systems in the nation!




  • Why is the water collection system needed?

    Freshwater contamination is another severe problem in Kiribati. Rainwater falls straight through the sand, and you can dig down to just 6 feet and find ocean water - not exactly the best water to use to grow. Currently, all rainwater collection systems provide fresh water for drinking, with nothing leftover for growing crops.




  • What makes your drip irrigation so “advanced”?
     
    Advanced irrigation gives the crops the exact amount of water they need to grow, saving 70% more water than traditional methods. Advanced irrigation has a valve that distributes the perfect amount of water required in the crop’s particular stage of life. This irrigation is a game-changer, and nothing like it exists in all of Kiribati.
     
  • How much water can you collect at one time?

    Our 10 tanks can hold up to 26,000 gallons of water at once. Since Kiribati receives 60 inches of annual rainfall annually, we collect 73,000 gallons every year, giving us sufficient water to irrigate our 10-acre farm.

     

  • Agricultural Center

  • What is your Agricultural Center?

    Our agricultural center is what takes this project from our minds into the heart of the Kiribati people. Our goal is to teach the people how to farm and produce their food, rather than merely providing crops ourselves.

     

     

  • What are your plans for expanding thWhat are your plans for expanding this project?is project?

    This project starts on Marakei but will expand to the other Kiribati Islands and other Pacific Islands, such as Tuvalu and Nauru, which also struggle with similar malnutrition problems that our project solves, such as poor soil health and water contamination.

  • Where is your Ag center?

    Our Agricultural Center-Marakei is currently started on the 10 acres of donated land on Marakei. 




  • How does the ag farm/center work?
    Locals will come to our Agricultural Center, learn our methods through our Farmers Manual and modules, and work alongside our experts on our farm. After 3 days of work, they will receive payment in knowledge, experience, and seeds. These newly trained farmers will continually buy and rent our tools and materials and continuously have assistance from our experts and microfinancing groups. 
     
  • Education

  • Why is education a part of your model?

    We don’t want just to provide our crops for the people of Kiribati and make them purchase our crops. Our ultimate goal is to empower the people to make lasting changes for themselves. Through our Agricultural Center, locals can learn our techniques to make a difference for them.

     

  • If most of your training is online, does Kiribati have enough internet connection to support this?

    Parts of Kiribati have a stable internet connection, but unfortunately, not all parts of all islands do have this access. We stream our modules to Tarawara, where there is a good connection. These modules are downloaded on a USB or disk to avoid buffering times and streaming difficulties.

     

  • How do you teach farming?

    We developed a Farmers Manual offered both in the English and Kiribati language and can teach our 3-phased restoration system to those who haven’t even seen a farm before. Our power points include photos and videos to make learning the easiest possible. Our trainer model ensures that this is sustainable and that we don’t have to be actively involved in teaching each farmer trained.

     

  • Who teaches your educational program?

    We do! We have created this 3-phased solution, implemented it on our farm, and we know it best. We have already trained 23 farmers, and through our train trainers model, the trainers we train will train future farmers so that we don’t have to be involved with the training of each farmer.

  • Partnerships

  • What kinds of partnerships do you have?

    We have partnered with soil experts worldwide, including Dr. Skinner and Lal Teer Organic Solutions. We have partnered with 16 schools, churches, grocery stores, and restaurants committed to buying the produce we grow. Our 32 community associations and nonprofits have helped us make a difference and establish relationships, specifically in Kiribati.

     

  • With what organizations are you currently working?

    KiriCAN is a nationwide non-governmental organization in Kiribati that we have reached out to and made a connection with. They struggled with having sufficient water, which is a problem that with our water collection system solves.

     

  • What schools have you partnered with?

    We have partnered with a couple of schools on the various islands. These schools have committed to purchasing our crops and have committed to help our project through education. Teaching a nutritious lifestyle starts with the young through education in schools like Moroni High School and King George V and Elaine Bernacchi School. 




  • Are you done getting partnerships?

    Absolutely not! 
    We are always looking for more partners that will help us expand our project. Please join our project to work toward changing a nation.

  • Finances

  • How are you funding this project?

    We have already made $56,200 in funding from prize money, grants we applied for, and donations in the form of seeds, land and equipment. We will continue to fund the future of this project through our 3 revenue streams: crop sales, pig sales and tools and equipment sales. 

  • What is Micro-Financing and how does it fit into the Re-Earth Project?

    We understand that farming equipment and land is an expensive investment. We set up a Peer-Based Micro financing system at our Agricultural Center to help locals invest in a new, sustainable lifestyle. We put individuals in groups to help keep them all accountable, they pool and put in what they can, and we match  what they put in with the understanding that they will not getaway more loans until the entire group pays off their old loans. This mirco financing allows them to afford and get started on their farms.

  • How much do you sell your crops for?

    We  are still testing the market to gauge the exact price of our crops, but since we avoid importing tariffs and costs,  we will be  able to  sell  our  produce for a third to a fourth of the price of current options. This would put us at about $4 for a cucumber instead of the current $12, but again we are still eating the market to find a price that we can and our customers can afford. 

  • How is your project organized into a business?

    We are a cooperative based on the 7 principles of the Rochdale protocol that adds structure and organization, ensuring the long-term sustainability of Re-Earth. This cooperative model provides that whatever individuals put into the project, they will get out. 




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