In June this year, the Australian Government (DFAT) in partnership with UNDP funded the Organic Backyard Gardening (sup-sup garden) project that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) began implementing and reportedly has seen impressive developments.
Today, MAL released a press statement giving information on the project and advising of the impressive achievements to-date.
I am really very pleased to learn of the early success of the project in providing many in the community with self-sufficiency ideas and seeing early returns in home grown crops of health vegetables...
The MAL press statement is worth releasing and I am pleased to share the contents with readers at home (and on my international website – www.solomonislandsinfocus.com –
“The Organic Backyard Gardening (sup-sup garden) activity that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) is implementing has made impressive development.
“The program was part of the Preparedness and Response Plan to counter Covid-19 impact under the Livelihood Sector Committee program.
“What really impressed me was the gratitude of the recipients towards the assistance they had received from MAL and that they actually planted out the seedlings and seeds in their gardens and are using the tools that were given to them. They had also stated that for them, this is the first time to have their own tools and it has tremendously assisted them in their farming activities,” Under Secretary Technical (Acting) of MAL and Chairman for the Livelihood Sector Committee, Michael Ho’ota said.
“On 17 June this year - 2020, MAL distributed seedlings and gardening tools to households/farmers in Honiara and on the outskirt communities with the financial backing from the Australian Government (DFAT) in partnership with UNDP.
The initiative was purposely to encourage households to make gardens around their houses to subsidise food costs.
“We have visited the project recipients on Thursday 30th July and the progress we noted was impressive,” Mr. Ho’ota said.
“He said that this an ongoing activity of MAL, however, with the increased funding support from the government (SIG) and donor partners - Australian Government (DFAT) and UNDP because of COVID-19, it enabled the ministry to extend and increase its activities more than during normal times.
“This activity will extend beyond State of Public Emergency (SOPE) areas to all the provinces, input and funding support are currently at the procurement phase,” Mr. Ho’ota added.
“On planning assumption for Planning and Response Plan of the Livelihood Sector Committee Mr. Ho’ota said:
“In the event that a state of emergency is declared there may be a total lock down of Honiara. The livelihoods of the affected populations will be impacted in terms of food security, loss of income, labour and employment, access to markets and impacts on the business community (formal and informal). The farms visited come under the following activities in the Livelihood Sector Planning and Response Plan.”
“On nursery and bulking sites establishment in the SOPE areas, Mr. Ho’ota said:
“All street markets in Honiara have been closed and the Honiara Central Market is now overcrowded and social distancing could not be practised in this situation.
“The planting material related activities aims to support Honiara residents and others to be self-sufficient by growing their own supply of vegetables and roots at their backyards or garden in the case of those who have access to land. This activity will operate from the newly established National Agriculture Research and Livestock Centre (Former Taiwanese Farm) at KG VI. Similar arrangement will be replicated in each provincial centres and possibly cluster communities.
“Planting Materials and early maturing seed will be procured and distributed to both home based farmers and those who migrated back to their respective villages due to the COVID-19 State of Emergency declaration. The beneficiaries will be identified through the Agriculture Extension services in the respective provinces,” MAL Under Secretary Technical and Chairman of the Livelihood Sector Committee explained.
The Australian Government (DFAT) in partnership with UNDP funded the program.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is the project implementer.
End of quote.
Source: MAL Media Release
In a separate news story today, Jeremy Gwao, writing in the Solomon Times Online, tolls the story of Anna of Fulikaomae village in Malaita province.
Anna has a cocoa plantation of some 400 to 500 cocoa trees where she works tirelessly to get enough money to feed her six children.
Jeremy, as usual, tells his story very well and I will quote some of what he said about Anna and the daily challenges she faces.
“Mothers are said to be the backbone of families no matter how much they struggle, most often than not they do so silently.
“Like Anna Kali for example. 58 year old Anna is a single mother with six children. Her husband left her years ago.
"I did not go to school but I have been able to support my family through the small cocoa plantation that we have”, Anna says.
“While people in formal employment invest in the office work that they do, for Anna, her investment is in the cocoa plantation. Most of her time was spent in the plantation.
“Anna continues to work hard in the plantation, to earn whatever income she can to look after her children.
“I gave all I have just to put food on the table everyday”, she says.
Anna has 400 to 500 cocoa trees. She says now that she is getting on in the years, she has not been able to prune the trees anymore. She says such a business also requires time, effort and strength. Currently she is the only one doing all the work.
"The money I received goes towards my household expenses. Whatever remains I will save”, Anna says.
Anna has been in the cocoa business for 25 years now. She recalls that in the past, the Agriculture sector always supported rural farmers through supplies of pruning saws, harvesting knives, wheelbarrows and pressure pumps. She says this is not happening now.
"I still use the harvesting knife and brush knife given to me back in those days”, Anna says.
She says though the tools are quite old, she is now used to them.
The only challenge for Anna now is her lack of understanding on sums and figures.
"I find it very hard when it comes to the buying of my cocoa beans because I am not well versed with the kilos or the numbers," Anna says.
.Anna also wishes to know if the stimulus package can help anyway to help her cocoa farming or the agriculture sector help to provide support.
End of quote.
Source: Solomon Times Online.