BY MYRNE LIVETT
CENTRAL Guadalcanal Cocoa farmers call for financial assistance to rural smallholders rather than hand tools only.
Anick Chiasi 35 of Pamphylia village further inland in the Malango ward, said he’s engaging in cocoa for 20 years maintaining his plot of 200 trees planted near a river that is prone to flooding.
“There are about 20 cocoa plots upstream near the river and during a recent flash flooding, flood destroyed some of our trees, we saw the cocoa trees floated down the river carried by the flood,” Chiasi said.
“Another challenge is a worm that damages the trees and pods, and it often happens as vines covered the trees,” He added.
“I received assistance for a sun drier from the government for rehabilitation after the 2014 flash flooding, and after no assistance until now.
“Recently a group came to our community to do awareness but I did not attend that awareness. And also, I remember, some individuals who are main supporters of the current central Guadalcanal Member of Parliament came to our village and took pictures, but later they only gave us a few tools.
“I also expect financial support, to help me buy wet beans from other farmers. There are others who received financial assistance, we also need that kind of support,” He said.
Mr Chiasi said, he usually buys 300 kg of wet beans per week at $3 per kilo from other farmers in his village. His trading partner in Honiara who buys dry cocoa beans is C-Corp which pays $12 per kilo of dry beans.
Mr Chiasi, also mentioned the challenge posed by flooding rivers, as farmers of Pamphylia have to shoulder their bags of Cocoa for about four kilometres to reach transport to town.
Meanwhile, rural farmer Mr Nahum Freddie, 52, of Mataruka village said, cocoa farmers in central Guadalcanal don’t need any more cocoa awareness and training. He pointed out, that farmers have attended a lot of cocoa management training through the years and are already equipped with the knowledge.
“I requested that fund intended for awareness, to be given directly to farmers,” Freddie said. “We farmers also need funds to employ people to assist us. I also requested agriculture officers to do follow-ups on funds given farmers, to see how farmers manage the fund they received.”