More Communities in North Malaita Engage In Rice Farming

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BY JOHN HOUANIHAU 

LAU/Baelelea constituency in North Malaita, Malaita province is seeing an increase of rice farmers as more 120 farmers in the communities avail their lands for the development according to local farmer John Samani.

In an interview with Environment Media Solomon islands last week, Mr. Samani said the aim is to address food security and rice import substitution in the country.

He said in 2019, one of his brother took some rice seedlings from Malu’u Agriculture extension office and asked Samani if he could help him to plant the seedlings.

For Mr. Samani when his brother brought the seeds he told him that he is not interested because the variety is new for them, and so his brother had decided to plant the seeds by himself.

Mr. Samani who graduated in Bachelor Degree in Literature from the University of Goroka in Papua New Guinea in 2010 said he ignored his brother because of many things.

“I have anticipated that if we go into Rice farming, equipments such as milling machine and other important equipment is needed for the farm – that would be a big problem for us,” he said with smile.

However although Samani has overlooked the opportunity, he said he have some ideas about how rice is grown or managed, but his understanding according to himself is not enough.

“I come across rice processes during my schools years at Tenaru and in particular when I did my study at Goroka where sometimes I often go with Agriculture students to rice farms at Goroka,’’ said Samani.

He said that the rice variety can be grown either on plain land or slop because it does not require much watering or water.

“They called it “upland variety’ or ‘dry land rice’. It only takes three months to harvest. Two or three people in the villages are now engaged in farming that variety and have been relying on the locally grown variety since 2019,’’ he said.

“So we decided to have a try. After we harvest we took the sample to Malu’u for milling because we did not have a milling machine at that time,’’ he said.

For a start, according to Mr. Samani, his brother and one of their cousin brother cultivated three hectors to start their farm.

“So we started the first three hector and there are many villagers who come to us and asked for seeds and we urged them to plant and share to whoever is interested to grow rice,’’ he said.

During the periods of nursery, planting and sharing, Mr Samani made a request to the Agriculture extension office in Auki to help them with a milling machine and a rice thresher machine.

“Their reply was negative. They said that they cannot assist us because they don’t know whether the farm is productive or not,’’ he said.

As time goes by, samani and other local farmers had make the second harvest and again taken samples to Auki Agriculture extension office. This is where samani and his brother started to get connected with the province’s agriculture ministry.

“This is where the rice starts to get its popularity among the communities.

“Most farmer have small farm plots like 50 x 50,” Samani said.

He said their long term plan is to go into rice farming and commercialize it.

He said that farmers can produce 1 tonne per day which is equal to 1000 kg that is sold at SBD$ 150-00, therefore farmers can received a total of SBD$ 15,000.

“The Government do not have a budget allocated for rice, so recently, I Presented 30 kg sample and data for the month of September to show the production each day as well as some photographs,’’ he said.

“I like to call on our MP to work with government to purchase for us, 4 milling machines which will be allocated at four main rice production stations.

“The 1st station is Fourere that will cater for farmers at ward 9 and those resides at ward 10. The existing machine is at Takwa which will cater for us at Takwa.

“The 3rd is to be station at Gounasu to meet those up at the high lands and the 4th should be located at Ofatabu for the Baegu Asifola farmers,’’ Samani said.


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