The importance of Kava crop to livelihood and its economic return to the country was emphasized to West Are’are Constituency farmers during a recent training held at Haumahure’a Centre – Uhu from 12-14 October.
The training, which focused on kava farming husbandry practices, farming methods to produce high quality kava for local and international markets was held by the theme “We do not plant kava for how many but how much” and facilitated by Kava specialist from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Extension Department and attended by farmers from various wards in the constituency.
While addressing the 90 farmer participants, MAL Extension Department, Deputy Director Projects, Eddie Hori highlighted the importance of Kava to livelihoods and its economic benefits to farmers in West Are’are Constituency.
“…kava could be one of the crops that can be able to sustain the livelihoods of West Are’are people.
“It is a high value crop and most suitable for the Southern Region of Malaita Province because of the limited arable lands for huge agricultural developments,” Mr. Hori highlighted.
The training was aimed at enlightening and broadening farmers’ knowledge on various aspects unknown to participating farmers as they will be also able to share their knowledge to other farmers who are present and those back home to elevate the production of Kava not only individually but for West Are’are Constituency, Malaita Southern Region and the nation.
West Are’are Constituency Development Officer (CDO), Stanley Araha, while acknowledging the Ministry of Agriculture in facilitating the training said that Kava is a new crop and it is very important that West Are’are farmers learnt the basic practical kava farming skills and knowledge from the workshop so that they could all be successful and to support their rural livelihoods through kava production.
Mr. Araha further said the training has enhanced participants’ knowledge on this new crop – Kava and at the same time inbuilt them with confidence to manage their own farms.
Topics covered on day one of training includes;
- Kava history in the Solomon Islands
- Site selection
- Root stock selection
- Basic kava tools
- Nursery and direct planting and management
- Shades and its management
- Transplanting and plant spacing
- Field Management Practices
- Pest and Diseases Control
- Harvesting, cleaning, chipping and drying
- Quality Control and Assurance
- Kava Exporters/Buyers
Day two involved practical and demonstration sessions with specific areas covered includes;
- Conducive environment,
- Site selection,
- Land preparation,
- Plant spacing,
- Growth & development,
- Preparation of planting materials,
- Nurseries, kava management & kava harvesting,
- Washing, cutting/sorting/drying, packaging and storage
The importance of selecting the right variety to plant was highlighted. An important knowledge for farmers especially following experiences of farmers in other parts of the country who brought their kava for sale in Honiara only to find that it is the wrong type of kava and was rejected by buyers.
The Ministry of Agriculture urged all kava farmers to ensure they can identify the type of kava that is being purchased by exporters and that they teach others too.
The importance of record keeping was also highlighted as a planning tool.
“This simple farm recording activities are important in managing of farming activities, income and expenses to ensure farmers know how much profit they make from their farming business,” Mr. Araha said.
Mr. Araha said the training was the first ever biggest training held in the Constituency particularly on Kava which involved specialist trainers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Extension Department.
A similar training was also conducted by the MAL team for Kava farmers in the Small Malaita Constituency from 7-9 October.
The training ended with presentation of certificates to participants.
The training was coordinated and co-funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) through its Malaita Province Agriculture Extension office, Southern Region and the West Are’are Constituency office.
Director of MAL Extension Department Andrew Menanolu acknowledged the support that the West Are’are constituency office provided to the program together with MAL that eventuated in the training’s realization. He also thank his team for the job well done.