Training aims to boost capacity & economic activities for Guadalcanal kava farmers

A four-days training to enrich Guadalcanal rural kava farmers capacity and boost economic activities in the province was held recently (17th – 21st August 2020).

Guadalcanal Provincial Government (GPG) through its Agriculture Division facilitated the training with funding support provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Extension Department under its Livelihood Development Budget.

A total of 183 kava farmers in South Guadalcanal region participated.

Held at two separated wards – Wanderer Bay, Hauvalisi ward and Duidui, Vatupuku ward the training focused on theory, practical and demonstration activities.

Chief Field Officer for Guadalcanal Province, Joseph Wotomaru said the training was a success.

“The aim of this Kava intervention is to increase the capacity of rural farmers and to support them to increase Kava production to boost agricultural economic activities hence, improving rural Livelihoods and ensuring food security in Guadalcanal.

“This kava program was developed in 2018 to increase kava production to alleviate poverty in the region – South Guadalcanal where the Solomon Islands Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) conducted in 2012/2013 indicated that there were 24,000 people in Guadalcanal Province living below the poverty line.

“Our target is to cover 8 wards in South Guadalcanal with 6 trainings for 40 farmers per venue,”Mr. Wotomaru said.

He said besides the capacity exercise, farmers were also supported with planting materials and tools to increase their production.

“Our aim is to increase kava production from 1.2 metric tons as in 2018 to 5 metric tons by 2023.”

He said with the inclusion of the recent trainings – Wanderer Bay and Diudiu wards, it brings the number of trainings conducted to-date to six, including, Balo, Avuavu, Kuma and Talise with 377 farmers so far trained and 47,957 kava bottoms planted according to data collected.

Mr. Wotomaru said having seen local communities there involved heavily in kava farming is encouraging.

He thanked those participated in the trainings and urges them to utilise information shared to guarantee improvement in kava production.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wotomaru said even though kava revolution continue to transpire across the country, there are farmers who continue to strive in the industry despite challenges and South Guadalcanal is no exception.

He said rural farmers in the region continue to face impediments including; Lack of proper tools and processing facilities; lack of first hand technical information on agronomy and processing to ensure quality kava is produced, remoteness and cost of transportation is high and no Extension officer on site.

“Kava is a new crop to some areas in the country and a lot of farmers have used trial and error approach to reach where they are now and to appreciate the work done, I suggest there should be more support given to them.

“Now that this program is completed, I am looking forward to monitor the progress of implementation by farmers and to evaluate the success if we can reach 5 metric tons by 2023.”

Mr. Wotomaru said plans to conduct similar trainings around the province is prepared.  

He thanked the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) through its Extension Department for its continuous support to farmers and for making the training possible through financial assistance.

Director of MAL, Extension Department Andrew Menanolu while commending Guadalcanal Province Agriculture Division for the successful training said he’s department is please to support such exercise to boost farmer’s capacity, especially through training and demonstrations as well as capacity improvement in financial literacy.

“To achieve ‘improve livelihood’, farmers must be empowered to make better decisions in managing their incomes. This means the huge income received from kava sales must have significant impact to the rural community.”

Mr. Andrew said his department will continue to facilitate support to provinces through their agriculture divisions to ensure such agricultural activities and trainings are effected to increase the capacity of rural farmers.

“Improving farming production and boosting of agricultural economic activities to improve rural Livelihoods and food security in the country is paramount,” he said.

Training aims to boost capacity & economic activities for Guadalcanal kava farmers
Vatupuku Kava training participants.