BY LESLEY FOINAGWA
FOR a long, the agricultural sector in the rural setting has been a challenge. Though 80-90 percent of the rural populace have traditional knowledge and skills in agriculture.
Many farmers in the rural Solomon Islands are coconut-producing communities because of its income benefits in the informal sector.
Raymond Mauri of West Kwaio in the remote region of Malaita province has recently taken up coconut farming in his rural community to meet the demands of the country’s growing coconut industry to export overseas and to boost his earnings.
Today, the majority of youths are unemployed as there is neither guarantee of income nor enough organizations that provide jobs in the country. Raymond, 26, says it is time to break this cycle and think beyond this challenge.
Raymond has now planted coconut palms in his rural land in West Kwaio and describes his fascination for growing coconuts and how he looks forward to making a living out of it.
“I was influenced by my father to take up coconut farming. Now I feel confident and hope to follow closely the footstep of my father.
“So far, in my two squared blocks of land, I have planted 500 coconuts and I hope to increase the number to more than 1000.
“My objective is to grow coconuts and make earnings from selling copra. Since coconut is one of main income for rural people especially in west Kwaio,” he said.
Since Coconut is one of the key export commodity of the country for years, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and its partners has recently introduced a rehabilitation program for coconut farmers of ward 28 in west Kwaio, Malaita province is effectively underway, according to cited media reports.
“A bulking site consisting of around 10,000 nuts has already been prepared and will be distributed to farmers when it is ready.
“Around 3000 nuts have already been distributed to the first farmers in West Kwaio.
“More farmers are expected to receive their nuts once the nursery is ready for transplanting.”
Member of Malaita Provincial Assembly forward 28 who is the Minister for Agriculture and livestock, Cloudio Tei’ifi recently told the media that the current coconut rehabilitation program at ward 28 is an initiative that comes from the interest of people.
“There is a need for the government to set a platform of leading a revival of this commodity at the community level.
“Back during the colonial days, coconut is the main resource that people and the country benefited much from through labor (employment) and export.”
“The indication of this rehabilitation program of coconut is for farmers to maintain and expand existing crops that the country has been depending on for past 40 years,” Mr. Tei’ifi said.