Strengthening agroforestry in the CNMI

Posted on Nov 22 2019


The Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research, Extension and Education Services is working double time to ensure a strong food system in the CNMI—one that is not so highly dependent on imported products.

“The main goal is to promote a more resilient food system [on] our islands,” said NMC-CREES extension agent Solly Takai.

Toward this end, about 90 individuals from different organizations participated in NMC-CREES’ Agroforestry Workshop last week at the Kanoa Resort, which included presentations from both homegrown and Hawaii experts, plus an actual agroforest planting immersion at a CREES farm in As Perdido.

“We have seen many storms and, with the whole climate changing, we are trying to have a stronger food system where people can just harvest food in their backyard, whether it be fruit trees or vegetables and root crops,” Takai said.

Dr. Craig Elevitch, Shirley Kauhaihao, and Neil Logan from Hawaii, as well as NMC-CREES interim dean Patricia Coleman and horticulture scientist Dr. Veranda Varma, shared their agroforestry experiences and knowledge, along with some of the basic fundamentals in maintaining and managing an agroforest plot.

Participants learned fundamental design principles, planning and customization of an agroforest from scratch, and maintaining and managing existing plots.

The two-day event was hosted by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.

NMC-CREES is also working with other government agencies, such as the Division of Agriculture, to promote agroforestry in the communities.

Takai said there already are interested individuals and schools that want to start their own agroforest plots, and some community gardeners that want an agroforest integrated in their garden plot.

“CREES will be there to provide technical assistance, and will do further training on different agroforestry topics and subjects, whether it be composting, mulching, pruning, all these different management techniques,” Takai added.

For more information and to be part of the agroforestry initiative on the islands, contact Takai at 234-3276.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at

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