BY MYRNE LIVETT
SMALL-scale semi-subsistence farming remains a common practice that sustains the livelihood of most people in Central Guadalcanal.
Recently, Isles Media interviewed Freddie Nahum Maeni 52, one of a hard-working rural semi-subsistence farmers of Mataruka village in the Malango area of Central Guadalcanal.
“I plant mainly Potatoes, Cassava, slippery cabbage and other vegetables because its food for family consumption, not only that I also sell my supsup garden produces to people in the village and travel to Honiara market on Saturdays, like for cabbage from price range $5 to $10.” He explained.
“The root crops selling at the market at $10 per heap. I’m on semi-subsistence, I sell the best of my produce at the market and set aside a portion for my family.”
Maeni said, in addition to that his family like a lot of families in Malango, also grows flowers for sale at the Honiara’s Central Market. With verities of flowers, his family earned good money to sustain the family.
“Flowers get us a good income, and we sell them during blooming season. Bundle of flowers range from $10 to $15, except for the Antrim planting material my price range from $50 to $100 for the small suckers, bigger suckers from $250 to $500.” He explained.
He said usual Flora and plants customers are politicians’ spouses, businesswomen, and church programs.
The 52-year-old father also mentioned he made an effort to raise livestock, applying for chicken and piggery projects through the constituency office.
“I heard of a fund called stimulus package, so I filled up the forms for chicken and piggery bac, but I no longer wait for it, the office told me my application was missing. I queried the office why my application had gone missing, and they didn’t answer me.” He said.
“So I forget about that and move on with my usual activity, while relatives of officers of the constituency received projects more than once.” So nepotism is clear here, I think the current administration is not fit to serve the people.” He pointed out. “Funds are not only for family members or tribe, it belongs to the constituency.
“So you see, some people who genuinely need the stimulus package are neglected, while others acquired it very soon, maybe only through phone arrangement,” Maeni observed.
Maeni said, he no longer frequented the constituency office for assistance as he draws back to small semi-subsistence farming for livelihood. With the help of one of his sons, a high school student, they’re using limited basic tools, an Axe, Knife and a spade to do brushing, cutting down, Cleaning and mounting soil.
“I faced a challenge, especially with the cabbage which at times prone to attack by insects. Cheap insecticide is not effective here, the one that works well is expensive.
“And also a lot of semi-subsistence farmers in the community now, and we are competing at the market. Our transport service here is not regular as well, we need are regular service as some crops have a short life span, especially cabbages. When transport is not readily available according to time of harvest, that crop expires and we may experience loss of income.”
Those are some of the challenges faced by rural farmers in Malango central Guadalcanal, a ward in the province apart from the Tandai ward, also hosts a portion of Honiara City.
Maeni, like other farmers in his community, spends 2 to 3 hours in the early part of the day and in the evening engaging in small-scale inter-cropping, to support his family and contribute to the community.