Resurgence of vegetable farming for food security augers well for an expansion of crop production leading to exports
If it can be said anything good has resulted from the restrictions on movement imposed by the government occasioned by the precautions against the intrusion of coronovirus then it has been the resurgence in vegetable farming.
Of course the loss of food gardens especially in Guadalcanal following the devastation caused by Tropical Cycline Harold has heightened the need for better food security.
For all those reasons it is perhaps why last week saw more than 17,000 expressed their interest in receiving 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 and I hope we will soon see more people turn to vegetable and other forms of farming as an occupation of choice.
I have often written about the potential I see in the Solomon Islands for coffee, cocoa, bananas (as chips), coconuts, pineapples, noni fruit, mangoes, cassava, taro, carrots, kava, fresh flowers (orchids in particular), ginger and vanilla.
If farming methods embraced simple hydroponics, especially on a commercial basis, I believe the Solomon Islands would be successful in exporting strawberries, culinary herbs, tomatoes and a host of salad crops and perhaps beetroots and cucumbers.
I mention coffee and carrot production because I recall having read of the coffee project launched in 2018 by the villagers of Lo’onawadu community at Oloburi, East Kwaio in Malaita,
The community planted more than three hectares of land.
I recall, too, in the same year Lionel Maeliu, a well-known organic farmer in Central Kwara'ae, Malaita Province saying he believed the highlands of Malaita had the potential to supply the country with carrots once carrot farming could be encouraged throughout the province.
Last week media reports highlighted the success of the Barana market and the Tenaru roadside market.
There was also a report of the Bushman farming Network (BFN) supporting communities to become self-reliant for food security in response to the threat posed to the country by Covid-19.
It is understood the BFN programme started last week in a communal effort to clear new gardens and 40 gardens were cleared in Namobaula and 17 in Gwaedaedae village.
Similar work is expected for another two communities, Kwanasia and Fulifo’oa this week. The second phase of the programme is to plant all cleared gardens for mainly root crops to support the people.
The programme has touched the livelihoods of vulnerable, single mothers and marginalized people in the communities.