Seeking advice on raising food crops in brackish water.
Rising sea levels caused by climate change and the intrusion of sea water into many food gardens in the Solomon Islands has threatened food security since some of the most staple crops such as taro and cassava have halted.
I am afraid the impact of climate change is real and I see the need to develop growing methods for crops tolerant of salt.
In respect of taro, I believe tissue cultures have already been developed for salt tolerance but the basic data needs to be studied.
One country that has done extensive work regarding crop tolerance to seawater is the Netherlands, a country which has formal diplomatic ties with the Solomon Islands.
In the Netherlands demonstration farms have shown specific varieties of potatoes, carrots, onions, white cabbage and broccoli, can grow with sea water irrigation methods.
In China, a team led by Liu Shiping, a professor of agriculture at Yangzhou University has created rice varieties that can grow successfully in salt water, and achieve yields of 6.5 to 9.3 tons per hectare.
In Israel, a country that recently offered 10 agricultural scholarships to the Solomon Islands, much success has been demonstrated in growing a great variety of crops in brackish water.
I would recommend the Solomon Islands government seek advice and technical assistance on growing crops that are known to be salt tolerant from the three main countries that have so far demonstrated success in crop cultivation utilizing salt water irrigation methods, namely the Netherlands, Israel and China.
From my own research, I have learned that the following salt tolerant crops are being grown, some with high salt tolerance and some less so.
Here is the list.
Barley, Cotton Rye, Wheat, Lupin, Soybean, Oats, Millet, Sorghum, Rice, Date palm, Pomegranate, Fig, Olive, Grapes, Rockmelon, Beetroot, Tomato, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Sweet corn, Broad bean, Squash, Pumpkin and Cucumber.
Of course, I know the crops I have mentioned are not all traditionally cultivated in the Solomons, but the fact that they can be successfully raised in brackish water should serve to seek help on crops that could be cultivated at home to try and alleviate the food shortages that have been experienced so far.