Women Farmers Livelihood Threaten by Mamara Development

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WOMEN villagers in Borosugu, North-West Guadalcanal who rely on their watercress farms for their family livelihood are crying in vain knowing very well that very soon their farms will be destroyed to give way for the development expansion of Mamara New Capital City.

Asian investors and development planners are said to have earlier warned villagers using Mamara Springs to farm watercress to vacate their farms to give way for further expansion as part of a broad development plan on the ‘Mamara New Capital City.’

Large numbers of women watercress farmers have been farming on the Mamara Springs for over several decades, now their future to farm and earn a living hangs in a balance, with fears that their water source will soon vanish to the hands of the Asian investors.

Watercress – is one crop that earns a lot of income for the nearby communities or households involved in growing it.

As watercress grows only in damp and moist places and even on water, the Mamara Springs has been utilized commonly for this. They use a technic which is like anchored rafts where lines of beds are built on the water using floatable material such as bamboo. Tiny cresses and most importantly their roots are held on these beds. Their roots spread quickly and eventually newer suits sprout and over time the beds become filled with this salad crop. Watercress beds can be found in the upper section of the springs towards the source spring.

The Mamara Springs itself is more than a kilometer to the spring from its mouth. Watercress is produced at around 50 to 100 parcels during each harvest and sold at $10 a parcel. Each parcel is estimated at around 200-300 grams. So, for each harvest, this equates to some total weight of around 10kg to 30kg which makes for an overall income of $500 to $1000 per harvest

For Doreen Mele, an elderly mother from Borosugu, the Mamara Development is disrupting their way of life.

“We just had a meeting with the boss from the company Mr. William where he warned that all our watercress farm along the spring will be removed soon – as far as next month,” She exclusively told Environment Media.

She said: “We questioned the manager during a previous meeting – we asked if the company could pay compensation if they want to destroy our watercress farms, however, the manager told us that there will be no form of compensation payments since they are the new landowners of the area.

“We were very worried from the response we heard from the company since the importance and benefit we got from watercress farming here was almost helped twenty years ago,” Doreen said.

“They have already removed other agricultural cash crops like betel nut farms and sago palms. They even failed to negotiate and pay compensation for destroying our previous cash crops.

“For now, our watercress farms are the only form of agricultural products we have left to make a profit to buy school fees, food, and other basic family necessities.

“We will suffer a heavy financial loss with the next month’s removal of our watercress farms.

“Our only hope rests on the Guadalcanal Provincial Government and the National Government; since we have no power or control on what is about to happen to our future livelihood,” Doreen added.

The Mamara watercress farms are major suppliers of watercress crops to the markets, restaurants, and even Hotels in Honiara.

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One comment

  1. Government must protect rivers and land resources vital to villages in and around this development. The developers cannot be permitted to cause any environmental or economic damage. The villages in and around Marmara depend on the land and water resources for their livelihood and must not be disadvantaged. The Government needs to step up.

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