A one-day Plant Health Clinic (PHC) for Women Market Vendors from East Guadalcanal Province, Aola to Ghaobata ward who are members of the Honiara Central Market Vendor Association (HCMVA) was deemed successful.
The PHC was part of the four days training workshop organised and supported by UNDP through the Guadalcanal Province Agriculture Extension Office with the aim to support farmers with advice on practical and long-term management practices to enable local farmers care for their crops more effectively for increase production, income generating and promoting nutritional and food security for farmers and consumers.
Also to provide advice for farmers struggling to control pest and disease affecting their plants and root crops.
More than 20 farmer participants attended the training held at the St Barnabas Cathedral Melanesian Hall in Honiara, recently.
The training involved four presentation awareness, two demonstration on vegetable farming and natural plant pesticides including the plant health clinic.
The Plant Doctors talked with farmers, discussed their problems, and then give correct advises or information to them on how to control and manage the problems on their crops and plants.
Hezilyn Tarimana, representative for East Guadalcanal Women Vendors said the training was really a blessing to them (participants).
“The concepts and demonstrations conducted will really help the farmers when they return to their respective homes and apply what they learn to their plants and crops. For some women, it is their first time to join such training and that is really an advantage for them,” Mrs. Tarimana said.
She appeals to MAL to consider organising similar workshop training down in the rural communities to make sure rural farmers access such important training to boost their farming knowledge and likewise production.
Participant, Chereen Vili, while acknowledging the training said she learned a lot from what has been presented and shared during the week long training.
“I learn new ideas, especially about producing our own natural pesticides, how to fusion and spray our crops to protect from pest attack in our gardens.
“Advises and information provided to us by the Plant Doctors will really help us to protect our plants and root crops from pest and disease,” Ms. Vili said.
Robert Aluga shared the same sentiments.
“This program/training is useful and helpful especially to us local farmers,” Mr. Aluga said.
“What we learned from this PHC will help us address sick plants and crops in our farms. The knowledge acquired to produce our natural/ or original pesticides like using chili fruits is really helpful and will reduce or stop us from buying pesticides from the stores,” Mr. Aluga said.
Mr. Aluga also calls on the government through MAL to invest more in agriculture and grow the sector to boost the local economy.
He said that similar trainings should be extended to the rural communities to ensure the participation of our rural farmers and not just few that registered under certain association to access such trainings.
“Agriculture is an important sector and the backbone of the country, therefore, making sure inclusive participatory is critical,” Mr. Aluga added.
Plant Health Clinic is similar to human clinics, but PHC is specifically for plants. A meeting place where local agricultural advisory officers, called “Plant Doctors” come together to meet farmers who brought with them their sick plants and crops for diagnoses and management advices.
MAL plant doctors have been running plant clinics for farmers in Guadalcanal, Malaita, Isabel, Makira, and Western since 2012. Plant Doctors from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Extension Department, Guadalcanal Province Agriculture Extension office, Honiara City Council, and SPC facilitated the PHC.