Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The impacts of Monoculture in Kiribati

 At those days, pacific countries actually focus on polyculture where the natives plant different kinds of crops for their source of food. In Kiribati our ancestors always use to plant many different kinds of indigenous plants for the family food as well. Nowadays, polyculture actually not even practiced by many pacific islanders as they move to monoculture in terms of export oriented. The term monoculture in agriculture refers to the cultivation of only one crop within a wide area. Kiribati is comprised of 32 low lying coral atolls and it situated along the equator. Monoculture is very important to Kiribati regarding financial income to the country. Coconut plantation is one of the types of monoculture in Kiribati where it helping the government to gain potential income from exporting its products that made from copra.Coconut plantation in Kiribati is the type of agricultural system that the government of Kiribati practically used nowadays.

Distribution, Composition, structure and Abundance of plants.

The coconut trees are the crops that found anywhere in all part of the country where it is one of the types of monoculture agriculture because the natives only planted this type of crop on the islands without planting other different indigenous species. This may rather categorized under agroforestry because many other varies indigenous species also found growing with coconut trees. The coconut trees are grown all over the land where they sometimes planted by the natives but others were can accidently growing without cultivation. Coconut trees are seen and found everywhere on the island where they grow wildly with many indigenous plants. The coconut trees are grown sequentially or in a structured way but they also often seen not structured because they always grow accidently. Most of the coconut trees are found abundantly in the middle of the land and just grow scarcely in residential places. This type of agricultural activities sometimes affect the lives of some indigenous plants species that grown within the same ecosystem that coconut trees grow in where it can affect them to die because the natives may cutting down these crops in order to make a clear environment of coconut trees. According to Riikan, he stated that coconut trees are still the same with people which they also need their surroundings to clear in order to grow well. He also stated that if there are many small plants growing near young coconut trees, they can affect them to grow unhealthy and unwell therefore the natives may prefer to cut them down. According to the pictures below, figure 1 actually describe the distribution of the coconut trees in every part of Kiribati and figure 2 emphasize that there are many different indigenous species that grow with coconut trees and these are pandanus trees (pandanus tectorius), grasses, te uri (Guettarda speciosa), te mao (Scaevola taccada), te ren (tournefortia argentea) and many others indigenous plants. 

Figure 1                                                                       Figure 2 

Coconut plantation at Abaiang.                                     Different plants species grow with coconut trees.


Source: Google images

Impacts on communities and species within both natural and cultural ecosystem

Monoculture agriculture also having a desperate impact on the lives of communities and species within both natural and cultural ecosystem. In Kiribati the destruction of the bush is one of the way in which the natives always did to provide limited spaces for planting coconut trees. Clearing the bush when burning it or even when cutting down trees in an excessive amount for providing spaces for this type of agricultural activity can actually affect the lives of organisms that found living within that environment. Concentration on planting only one crop can actually affect the lives of diverse species within that particular ecosystem because they might not functioned well because there are no other crops that they needed for their survival.

Figure 1                                                                                       Figure 2.

Example of burning forest                                               Example of cutting down trees

Source: Google images 
Analysis: According to the two pictures above it shows the human activities to alter the forest ecosystem. Figure 1 shows the forest being burning for providing spaces for the monoculture while in Figure 2 it also shows the human activity when cutting down trees to provide limited spaces for this type of agriculture system as well. However, there are many diverse species found within the natural ecosystem so for that reason monoculture actually affect the lives of these diverse species to disappear because there is only one crop species introduced in this kind of agricultural system. This could be destroy the lives of other species that relied on those crops that already grown in the place that being practiced by monoculture activities. The human modification to the environment like cutting down trees or also made pond actually change the life cycle within the environment because there are many species being destroyed when making things.

Major emphasis should be placed on how the new monoculture systems have affected your agricultural biodiversity.

Monoculture in Kiribati actually having a desperate situation on the agricultural biodiversity or agro biodiversity. A key component of agricultural intensification is monoculture, the cultivation of a single crop species in a field. Farmers around the world have increasingly assumed monoculture to achieve higher yields through economies of scale. However, monoculture having a negative impacts on some scale of biodiversity. Monoculture having desperate impacts on biodiversity where it provides a narrower range of habitat than polyculture fields. Agricultural systems contain some dimensions of biodiversity. Planned and Associated biodiversity are the two examples of dimensions of biodiversity that found in agricultural systems. Planned biodiversity is refers to the diversity of crops and animals that chosen by a farmer for production while associated biodiversity refers to the microorganisms like insects, birds, and other wildlife that both depend upon and help maintain agro ecosystems. Reducing planned biodiversity to include only one crop could be affects the composition and abundance of associated biodiversity. For example, the balance of plants pests and their natural enemies that may exist in polyculture fields can be disturbed in monoculture systems which provide habitat for a narrower range of insects. The population of insects such as bees, flies, moths, and birds which providing important roles in pollinating and pest pressure services to crops also tend to be lower or maybe they can disappear when monoculture system takes place.

Impacts of monoculture on tropic levels, food chains, energy flow and nutrient cycle.

 Monoculture is absolutely having impacts on the environment where it affects the lives of many different species that found within a particular ecosystem. Introducing only one crop within a particular ecosystem can actually affect the trophic levels of plants and animals that living within that ecosystem. Trophic level shows how each plants and animals get their nutrition for each of them. This explained by their interaction between themselves to get their food supply. For example, plants are having important roles to small insects like caterpillar, moth, flies and birds while they also having an important role to the environment they grow in. Small insects like caterpillar, flies, moth and birds also feed on plants while plants used these small insects for pollinating. These small insects are called pollinators where they helped to intermarry male and female plants. Destroying many plants that grow within an ecosystem and introduced only one crop can actually affect the life cycle within the ecosystem. The introduction monoculture agriculture can actually affect the energy flow and the food chain. Life for plants and animals based on energy so in this case the sun is a primary source of energy on this planet. Plants and other producers turn light into chemical energy.  A food chain shows an energy relationship. Plants used the sunlight to process its nutrition and this is called photosynthesis. When an insect eats the plants, they get some energy to survive and if the bird eats the insects the energy is transferred to one more time. Therefore this shows that there is a great interaction between plants and animals within the ecosystem. If one of these organisms disappears from the food chain cycle then there might be an imbalance within the ecosystem. So as a result plants and animals within the ecosystem might die and instantly disappear. However, fertilizers and pesticides  used in monoculture also  helped to destroy organisms within the ecosystem  where it deplete nutrient found in the soil, affect the water that used for organisms  and the people and also it introduced invasive animals in the ecosystem because there are no animals that responsible for killing these new species. For example, beetle. Beetle is an invasive animal to the giant swamp taro in Kiribati because the natives used such fertilizers and pesticides in this type of agricultural so at a result the beetle exist and having a great impacts on the giant swamp taro because there are no other animals species that responsible to fight against this type of predator. This actually affects the lives of the giant taro to grow unhealthy.

Impacts on human food systems and human health

Monoculture in Kiribati actually affect the lives of the people of Kiribati especially their food supplies. In Kiribati polycultural activities is not highly practiced because the people always focus on harvesting coconut fruits for their main source of income. The people were very busying planting young coconut trees without planting other vegetables and fruits for their food supply. According the World Health Organization (WHO) Kiribati is accounted to be one of the top lists in having a highest mortality rate. This is because they were being affected by the non-communicable disease that these lifestyle diseases ariseas a result of eating fatty foods and meats. It is been reported that the percent of mortality rate in 2010 is 69 % and thus like to increase the next following years until this year 2014(WHO. 2010). The people of Kiribati nowadays were used foreign foods for their main diet because they don’t have fruits and vegetables to eat as they just focus on coconut plantation without cultivation vegetables, fruits and other greenish leaves. This where they definitely affected by some of the non-communicable diseases such as coronary heart disease, cardiovascular strokes, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and some forms of cancer because there is a great consumption of foods that contains a high percent of fat, salt and sugar. Therefore, monoculture agriculture actually affect the human food in Kiribati whereas the natives do not access to eat vegetables and fruits while it also affect most the people to die because of eating unbalance diet which is western fatty foods and meats.

Whether there are new weeds, pests of disease that have negatively affected the new monocultural system and what the negative impacts have been.

In Kiribati, there seems to be no kinds of weeds or pests diseases that affected the coconut plantation in Kiribati. However, only the giant swamp taro that has been affected by a new invasive animal which is beetle. Beetle is one of the new species that found having desperate impacts on the lives of giant swamp taro in Kiribati. The beetle affects the lives of giant taro where it feeds on the trunk of the giant taro and this caused this crop to grow unhealthy. The main disease that actually affected the coconut plantation in Kiribati is climate change where it affected the coconut to grow unhealthy because there is an increase in hot temperate compared with those days. However, during the past decade fertilizers is increasingly used for coconut trees in Kiribati but nowadays the Ministry of Agriculture actually forbade the use of fertilizers because climate change affect the lives of coconut trees to die(Timea.I. 2014).

Impacts of monoculture on indigenous and traditional knowledge systems

Monoculture in Kiribati actually affects the people as well with their own traditional knowledge system. In Kiribati, the people having their own skills in planting coconut trees and other indigenous species of plants. The existence of monoculture actually changes the people in a way that they are more adapting to foreign skills on planting their own crops. This is more concerned to using such fertilizers in this agricultural system rather than referring to such traditional skills in providing their crops with suitable foods to feed on. According to Riikan he stated that the people of Kiribati using different types of plants in their cultivation. Its means that the natives might cut the leaves of indigenous plants or used rotten leaves when planting their indigenous crops. For example, when planting the coconut trees the natives might find rotten leaves of teuri (GuettardaSpeciosa) and place it under the young coconut trees. Plants and trees are also very important regarding our traditional culture in fishing. According to Rouba he stated that plants and trees such as teitai tree (calophyllum, Alexandrian laurel) is very important as it shows us the time to go to fish and get a lot of catching. Our ancestors believed that if this plant produces its flowers then it was the time for people to go fishing because there are plenty fish in the sea. When the monoculture came our culture seems to start to fade away because our indigenous plants are being destroyed because of planting only one type of crop. The people of Kiribati also having their traditional culture in planting diverse indigenous plants. According to Teketa he stated that the natives used their own traditional weather seasoning which are Teaumeang and Teaumaiaki. He also stated that the people preferred to plant crops during Teaumeang season because this season brought  a lot of rain to the land where this actually help their crops to be growing well. However, they do not even plant their crops during Teaumaiaki season because this season brought dried weather.

The impacts of modern monocropping on food, health, energy and livelihood security.

Modern monocropping having a desperate situation on the food, health, energy and livelihood security of the people. Monocropping activities actually having an impacts on the food production because this type of agricultural system was mainly focus on planting only one crop without concerning on other types of crops. This is having a potential disadvantages on those underdeveloped countries who they relied on developed nations  in a way that it cannot provide them with lots of food because farmers just focus on only one crop. For instance, farmers might not care about planting potential vegetables and fruits that are important for the people’s health because they just cope for exportation oriented as money is their main hope. This can lead people causing such lifestyles diseases such as diabetes, obesity and many other non-communicable diseases because they always relying on eating foreign fatty foods and meats. Using fertilizers and pesticides in modern monocropping can actually affect the human health in a way that they can eat such chemical vegetables and fruits. This can affect the person’s health to get such kinds of diseases to his/her body. Modern monocropping actually having an impact on the energy and livelihood security as the demanded of food must be increased compared with the amount of food production.  

To conclude, monoculture having an impacts on the lives of the people, the environment and most of all it brings such potential income to the country. Monoculture agricultural is the new agricultural system that also emerged in the pacific countries and having potentially disadvantages on the land itself.

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Kilebrew. K. and Wolff. H. 2010. Environmental Impacts of Agricultural Technologies, Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington.

Riikan. K. (May 31th2014). N/A. (T. Tebanei, Interviewer).

Rouba. T. (May 31th 2014). N/A. (T. Tebanei, Interveiwer).

Steve. G. 2012, Monocropping: Necessity or Environmentally Neglectful, accessed June 1st, 2014,

Teketa. K. (May 31st 2014). N/A. (T. Tebanei, Interviewer).


Timea. I. (May 19th 2014). Agricultural Officer. (T. Tebanei, Interviewer).

Zorach. A. n.d, Monoculture Farming-Disadvantages And Negative Effects On The Environment, accessed  June 1st, 2014,

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