Solomon Islands - Senior officials hear good news from PACC demonstration trials

SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS from the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock (MAL) heard positive news from the Solomon Islands PACC demonstration trials, delivered to them personally by farmer Mr. Chris Babasi. Mr Babasi, who is one of the lead farmers for the trials in Pelau in Ontong Java Atolls, travelled to Honiara to share his experiences with the high-level delegation.

Set up 7 months ago, the trials focus on improved farming methods and crops that will contribute to food security in the face of climate change. Demonstrations include intensive agroforestry systems suitable for low-lying areas, growing crops under coconut, and improving nutrients in swamp taro systems. The officials – MAL Permanent Secretary Mr. Frank Wickham, Under Secretary Technical Mr. Jimi Saelea, Director of Research Mrs. Helen Tsatsia, Director of Extension Mr. Michael Ho’ota, the PACC Project Management Unit and other senior MAL officers – heard how the community is benefitting following the first harvest.

“Most of the field crops and tree crops have performed well even though the soil needs improvement. We have harvested some of our taro plants and distributed some of the suckers to other interested families” said Mr Babasi.

taro Photo: PACC Solomon Islands

 “Our biggest challenge in our demonstrations is salt-water intrusion and lack of soil nutrients. At the moment, the giant taro is not performing well since salt water intrusion has affected our gardening areas, however, taro plants are becoming popular and there are times when we are out of taro suckers when the demand is high.”

“Currently, we have four demonstrations plots that were set up last year, now we are establishing another two ourselves. From our experience working with the project team and MAL research officers, we feel it’s time we established and managed our own.”

Mr. Wickham and Mr. Saelea commended Mr Babasi for his efforts in managing the demonstrations and ensuring that families benefited from the first harvests. Mr. Michael Ho’ota assured the team that extension officers will be available to assist when it comes to dealing with pests and diseases that may threaten the demonstrations.

MAL Research Officers and the PACC project management team are currently planning a monitoring visit to the demonstration sites to provide technical support to the lead farmers.
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