Making Money through Citrus Farming in Simbo

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MS. Ima Riatako, a local farmer from Simbo Island western Solomons, has been selling Mandarin Orange for five years to date, at the Gizo and Noro markets in the region of Western Province.

The elderly mother, a regular face in the Gizo market sells Bananas and root crops before switching to citrus fruits.

She said, her interest in cultivating Mandarin Orange started when she came across vendors selling the citrus fruit at the market, that’s when she took some seeds and planted them in her garden at Riguru village, in Simbo Islands.

She has three trees that yield about thousands of fruits at a time, and that would fill three trays. At the market, she charges the fruits according to their sizes ranging from $2.00 to $5.00. Ima’s citrus trees bear fruits two to three times a year.

It takes her two weeks to sell all fruits from the trays when she’s competing with other farmers and a week of less competition at the market.

She uses money earned from selling the citrus fruit, to meet school fees for her children, immediate family needs, community obligations, and School contributions.

She earns a thousand dollars per tray when there’s less competition, and falls to $700.00 to $800.00 if other vendors are selling the same fruit.

Ima also faces challenges in her business, one is a pest attacking the trees in her garden lessening the lifespan of the trees. She notices a maggot destroying the roots of the plant, which causes the trees to wither after a short period of fruition.

When asked if she reported the pest to the agriculture division in the Western capital, or seek advice from officers, she seems not aware that any assistant would come from the government.

She said, what she’s doing to keep her sales consistent, is continue to plant more trees.

She added, when older trees wither, new trees would be growing mature to bear fruits. So, she’s continuing to plant the new seedlings to combat and adapt to the threat.

That is how the farmer combats the pest that shortens the life span of her trees. She continues to plant the citrus so that she will continue to have fruits to sell at the market.

Simbo is a volcanic island located about 31 kilometres South West of Gizo. The means of transportation is mainly by motorized canoes, and transport providers cost passengers a $100.00 for a one-way sea fare.

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Lynda Wate
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