Hydroponic farming of vegetables and fruit could provide the Solomon Islands with quality exports and create local jobs.
This week in Honiara more than 17,000 expressed their keenness to receive free vegetable seedlings from the National Agricultural and Livestock Research Development Centre and subsequently 600 seedlings were handed out to several recipients.
The Solomon Islands Government is keen to see more people participate in vegetable farming for local food production and for export.
Giving out free seedlings was possibly the prime motivator in seeing the Development Centre inundated with people acquiring seedlings and free packets of seeds and not necessarily an indication of a desire to turn to vegetable farming as an occupation of choice.
There are many in Singapore that have wisely opted to make a profitable living from vegetable production but done so with hydroponics.
Unlike the Solomon Islands, Singapore has an area of just 710 square km and a rising population now over 5 million. Most parts of the island’s land are utilized in urban development with only 250 acres of farmland hardly sufficient to feed the population.
More than 90 percent of Singapore’s food consumption is met by imports from some 30 countries.
To maximize the use of the land for food production, vertical hydroponic farms have been created under PVC roofing and now produce one ton of fresh vegetables every other day, five times more productive than a regular farm.
The vertical systems not only give significant yields but use less water, less energy and natural resources.
The vertical farming systems growing methods result in high quality, fresh and delicious vegetable crops as well as fruits.
The Solomon Islands has the potential of becoming an exporting country of vegetables and fruit crops (with nearby markets within easy distance by air) and I believe there would be much value in the Agricultural Development Centre developing into a facility that could teach and advice on hydroponic farming methods suitable for small scale farmers and for those with possibly the capital to emulate what has been proved successful in Singapore
Singapore has formal diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands and I feel confident the Singapore Government could, if requested, assist the Solomon Islands with creating an export capacity based on hydroponic farming methods.
In addition, basic hydroponics courses for urban farming are available in Singapore when one is taught about the growing of plants in a soil less medium.
The courses prepare participants with the skills and knowledge to establish their very own soil-system capable of producing high yields of quality vegetables and fruit free from pests and the vagaries of the weather.