More than a political slogan: The value of kastom in extension for sustainable agriculture in Vanuatu

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Traditional Vanuatu 'kastom' (the Bislama term for culture) has dictated sustainable agricultural practices for over three thousand years. However recent shifts toward cash cropping, growing urbanisation, population growth and climate change have raised concerns over national food security and the sustainability of the agriculture sector. 'Kastom' is often used simply as a political slogan for national unification, however it may provide a way forward in enhancing agricultural extension, and in turn the sustainability of the agricultural sector. The aim of this paper is to explore the potential for extension programs to be more inclusive of 'kastom' in order to more effectively promote sustainable agriculture. By demonstrating its value for sustainable agriculture, 'kastom' may become more than just a political slogan. Semistructured interviews and participant observations were methods used to collect data from smallholder indigenous farmers. Evaluation of the data suggests that, for many farmers, 'kastom' continues to be an integral part of their daily agricultural practices and that many of these practices promote sustainable agriculture. The paper concludes that extension programs which complement 'kastom' systems may have enhanced outcomes, however further research is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalRural Extension and Innovation Systems Journal (Online)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2018


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