FARMING on an atoll is a challenging task for local farmers due to lack of space, infertile soil, raising sea level and challenge of natural disasters.
And Luaniua villagers in Malaita Outer Islands (MOI), Malaita Province farmers there are also facing similar challenges.
Climate change remains a threat to their livelihood. However the need to grow food had seen the farmers looking at alternatives to grow crops.
In 2005 Luaniua community established an association called Luaniua Farmers Association (LFA).
Through this association, the farmers were able to work together and find ways to come up with farming techniques that can suit their environment and the atoll setting.
Through the association it was able to educate families and encourage them to get involve in farming by growing local root crops and vegetables using whatever resources they have.
In an interview with Solomon Star, coordinator of the association (LFA) Joel Keise said, the idea was part of his initiative to encourage people grow local food and to train people learn to help themselves.
He said that a lot of assessment was done on their islands in past years by climate change officers but still then they have never received any feed backs from them.
“So we come up with an idea to setup an association and help our people.”
He said that because the sea is cruel and they are experiencing sea level rise he tried to train people to do inter-cropping in a small piece of land at one location (area).
“With this method I’m trying to encourage people to see the impact of climate change and try to adjust to it.
“We want to promote agriculture at the community level and at the same time encourage families to grow local food.
“Under our concept we train people who are hard-working and not those who sit back relax expecting something to happen,” he said.
He added that under the association he also conducted training to members on how to improve their small farms.
This paper was fortunate to visit Keise’s small farm just next to his home.
There you can see varieties of root-crops and vegetables being planted in his small farm such as, taro, potato, banana, slippery cabbage, pumpkin and others.
His root-crops and vegetable are grow very well and it was really to see such a small farm yielding fruits.
He also ventured into piggery and poultry where he raises few local chicken and pig.
On his farm you can see varieties of root-crops, fruit-crops and vegetables planted all over in his farm.
Keise undergo inter-cropping where he planted his crops and vegetables in intervals.
Asked of when he started going into farming, he said, since he was still with the Ministry of Forestry as a research officer.
After his retirement years later he decided to make something good for his community when he returned home. The first thing was the formation of the farmers association.
Keise said the idea is to encourage his people or members to involve in farming.
“We look at alternate ways to farm at one area due to land scarcity experience on the island or because we lack fertile lands due to pollutions from sea level rise.
“So the only option we take is do decomposing,” he said.
“Agriculture is the key and vital to our physical lives.
“We must plant local food to sustain us and to feed our families.
“We need food on our table every day to sustain us,” he said.
He added in 2006 Kastom Garden Association and the former Community Sector Program (CSP) have shown support towards the association (LFA) when it started.
Keise is a happy man who walks around with a smiling face knowing he is reaping his hardwork.
He lives on Luaniua Islands MOI where he introduces the initiative in the community and has seen it grown to popularity.
Keise said that his future vision is to expand the farming initiative to other atoll islands in MOI to educate people and encourage them to get involve in inter-cropping scheme to withstand this creeping climate impact.
LFA is now growing and has gained popularity on the island with its members.
By STEPHEN DI’ISANGO