Farming for community sustainability needs infrastructure for long-term durability and livelihoods.
Reading a recent article in the Solomon Times written by Jeremy Gwao, the story revolves around a former logging camp worker who turned to growing water melons and who sells his produce in the Honiara Central Market, the main and essential outlet for farmers and resellers.
Two important messages arise from Jeremy’s story. The first being the vital importance the market plays for vendors, including farmers, and shoppers.
The second message which became apparent is the water melon farmers makes a better living from farming vegetable crops and fruit than he ever did working laboring in a logging camp.
So often in the past there has been a tendency to shun farming as a secondary occupation and given rise to the myth that there are far better opportunities to be found in Honiara.
The threat of Covid-19 has really opened people’s eyes to the “new normal” with job losses, employees laid off work, a shrinking economy, tourism at a standstill and a realization that food security is vital to livelihoods, security and one’s health and welfare.
There has been a realization of the importance of food security and one has witnessed over several recent weeks a return to the land and a fresh start at growing one’s own produce.
In some instances gardening tools and vegetable seeds have been donated by the representatives of locally based international agencies and by the Australian High Commission.
More needs to be done, I feel, to give the same kind of support to a much wider section of the community in the rural stretches of the country.
I once read of the economic linkages between the city and villages and how Solomon Islanders require cash to sustain their livelihoods.
Like the water melon vendor Jeremy Gwao mentioned, those that might now crop their own food crops and have produce to sell must have access to markets and this, I believe, will require better road infrastructure and transportation assistance than has hitherto pertained. Factors, in my mind, which also turned people away from the land.
Community sustainability – the “long term durability” - needs the infrastructure that has so often been promised.