Re-introducing Traditional Crops for Climate Change Adaptation in the Low-lying Atolls of the Mortlocks

DPA Seminar Series by Dr Gonzaga Puas

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Thursday 02 December 2021


Hedley Bull Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Dr Gonzaga Puas



The Mortlock Islands are a group of five atolls and one stand-alone island in the southern part of the state of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The elevation of the islands ranges from 3-4 metres above sea level, making the islands very vulnerable to the rise in the sea level. Traditional crops, such as taros and arrow roots, have been neglected in recent decades because of the increasing volume of imported food. Climate change is forcing Mortlockese to revisit salt-water resistant taros as an adaptation mechanism to the new threat. The long-term border lockdown resulting from the Covid19 pandemic is similarly forcing the islanders to look at traditional modes of food production because of the disruptions in international supply chains. Indigenous knowledge of food production is becoming essential to the islanders’ future survival. My presentation will discuss how the low-lying islanders of the Mortlocks are responding to the consequences of climate change by pursuing indigenous agricultural practices.

About the speaker

Dr. Puas is a research fellow in the Department of Pacific Affairs, Coral Bell School of Asia and the Pacific Affairs, College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. His research interests intersect the areas of Climate Change, Micronesian history, Constitutional Law, and Politics.

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