BY MYRNE LIVETT
Isles Media Freelance Reporter in Gizo
CUSTOM GARDEN is leading the way again, training women of west Gizo trail-blazing in the improvement of food security and empowerment of rural women farmers.
Custom garden coordinator Michael Derald strongly advised the group of 40 women mostly from Paeloge community, to do away with the thinking that the government’s ministry of agriculture, politicians or Member of Parliament and donors will assist them in improving their low economic status.
“With the COVID situation, it’s a call to go back to basic with the growing of local food crops, he said. The custom garden Association is here to assist these women in organic farming or organic gardening and for food security as well. We must do it ourselves for our own benefit, don’t wait on the government or politicians they won’t help us and if we wait for them thinking that they will help us, we will waste a lot of time.
“Custom garden is also making rural people aware of the nutritious value of local foods so as to help combat non-communicable disease or lifestyle sickness,” Derald added.
He said this project encourages people to go back to eating local food, combat lifestyle sickness and help people realize it and how to best solve it.
Every Tuesday the women’s group meet at Tirokoqu viu garden bulking site established by Derald, a few kilometres away from the provincial headquarters in Gizo town.
The purpose of gathering every Tuesday is to meet with the coordinator Derald and raise concerns about progress in their food garden plots and other farming initiatives.
“Today we discussed livestock, especially poultry and piggery distribution, which I will bring up to the custom garden Hea office in Honiara,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairlady of the women farmers group, Roselyn Derick thanks the Custom Garden Association for the great help in empowering women to sustain their livelihoods and of the community as well.
“We are very happy for the custom garden, we are a new group formed in March this year and started with two days of training on how to do compost, nursery and planting, as well as learning the importance of healthy nutrition,” she explained.
“Most of us used to struggle with selling coconuts at the Gizo market, to feed our families. Now this bulking site will help us with planting materials to plant our own garden plots for our families and to increase our produce for sale at the market, rather than only selling coconuts,” she stressed.
“We have a high hope that this will increase our productivity,” she said. The new thing we learned here is the arrangement of various crops in blocks, use of organic wastes and how to control pests with natural means.”
Coordinator Derald said, they used pounded chilly and neem leaves as insecticides to control insects and pests in their plots. And that natural pest control costs them no money, and does not require technical savvy in order to be able to apply it to crops.