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Niuean Scouts use yam for traditional prediction of cyclones

The growth of ufi or yam has proven to be an effective way of predicting tropical cyclones.

As of May, last year, the girls and boys brigade started a climate monitoring project planting ufi and using the traditional practices of monitoring the growth of ufi.

Director of Meteorology Rossy Mitiepo said a traditional way of predictions is also a good contribution to forecasting models.

“This crop is a very interesting crop that we wanted to experiment and we wanted to explore its growth because it responds very well to tropical cyclone activities and according to our ancestors  they would predict bad weather or cyclones coming to Niue by monitoring the growth of the ufi, so we wanted to see if it really does work. Some of the results that we received this year also shows a very good result that corresponds to cyclone activity. We heard from some of the brigade officers that they actually watched the growth of the ufi in their plantations and they actually responded to the previous cyclones that we’ve had so as soon as the cyclones came around Niue it just stopped growing and then it passes but it doesn’t show any threatened situations so we also know that if the ufi leaves grows upwards that means we’re in a safe situation or we are blessed but if it doesn’t grow or if it grows downwards that means we are going to be in a bad situation.” said Mitiepo

The cyclone season is traditionally from November to April, however the Director of Meteorology said due to the changing climates, tropical cyclones can occur outside of the season.

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On Friday May 8th, the ufi blessing ceremony will be held by the Ekalesia Niue at the Millennium hall as the Brigades are part of the Ekalesia.

Mitiepo said the project has been endorsed by the cabinet and the ministry of natural resources.

She said it also helps with maintaining food security in partnership with the Agriculture and environment department.

The regional climate monitoring project is an initiative by SPREP as part of efforts to simplify and communicate climate change at the grassroots level. 

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