El Niño Recommendations for Agroforestry
Protect coastal vegetation to protect agroforest from winds during the stormy season and dry season.
|coastal vegetation as seen from a coconut plantation||coastal vegetation as seen from the beach|
Prepare for possible storms
During the El Niño year, tropical storms and even typhoons may hit the Marshalls.
- Prune fruit trees by removing the crossed and unproductive branches. Pruning can improve the shape of the tree and also reduce the chances it will catch wind and be damaged in a storm.
- Prune branches and even remove trees that have the greatest chance of falling on a house.
- Grow arrowroot (m̗akm̗ōk), giant taro (wot), and other crops that will not be damaged in storms.
- Protect and maintain coastal vegetation to reduce/prevent coastal erosion and damage from salt spray and salt water.
- Stay tuned to "chatty beetle" or radio station.
Wet weather will affect your crops during the El Niño year – care for them
During the early months of an El Niño year (January – June), even before an “advisory” is announced, rainfall is higher than normal. It may continue to be wetter than usual all that year, through November or December.
- Grow vegetables in raised beds, for good drainage.
- Look at rainfall predictions: plant short-term crops if there will be enough time for them to grow deep roots or even give harvests before the drought.
- Cassava (Manihot esculenta, tapioka)
- Edible hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot, bele)
- Tree spinach (Cnidoscolus chayamansa, chaya)
- Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas, juweet piteto)
- Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo, baañke)
- Cultivate bele and chaya as nutritious, leafy vegetable shrubs that are fairly tolerant of drier conditions. These crops should be replanted by shoots every 2–3 months in partially shaded to open sites.
Plan ahead for a drought after the El Niño year
During the year following an El Niño year, rainfall is lower than normal. Some crops might fail.
- Look at the rainfall predictions – decide whether to postpone planting long-term crops like trees until after the drought.
- Repair tanks (for taro) and catchment systems.
- Mulch plants and use compost to retain soil water.
- Preserve breadfruit, pandanus, and other crops.