Farmers want Bellona to go organic - Solomon Star News

Farmers want Bellona to go organic

09 July 2020
A participant in front of a temporary nursery bed with pricked seedlings.

BELLONA Organic Farmers Association (BOFA) of Kapata village on West Bellona of Rennell and Bellona Province (RENBEL) want the entire island of Bellona to practise organic farming.

This came after they successfully registered their association on October the 8th 2019, a statement from Kastom Gaden Association (KGA) said. 

Led by their Chairman, Bix Paul, Fred Tango (Vice-Chairman), and William Paikea (Secretary), the association was established with the overall aim of ensuring food security, healthy diet and livelihood income targeting particularly women and children nutrition and health. 

“They want to achieve these by using sustainable organic gardening practices,” the statement said. 

On November 28th, 2019, William Paikea attended a PIFON (Pacific Islands Farmers Organisation Network) funded workshop called National Platform Meeting for Farmers Organisations in Solomon Islands that was conducted by KGA. 

That meeting gave chances for the participating FOs prioritise three activities that want to be supported by PIFON through KGA. 

The BOFA Secretary and Coordinator, selected as priority, the establishment of a proper model or demonstration farm for his association on their village on Bellona Island.

During the last week of May, KGA sent its Esther Lodu Esther Lodu, (funded by PIFON) to visit BOFA and its members on Bellona.

The trip was not only to establish the demo farm but also check on their registration documents, the committee as well as the membership and their current activities since their secretary’s visit to KGA for the PIFON FO Platform meeting.

BOFA was very pleased that one of their priority activities under PIFON support was in the process of being achieved. 

“Their interest showed when attended the training in May. Fifty-two participants came for the training that was planned for 20 participants. 

“Of those who attended, 24 or 46% were female and 28 (54%) were male. Youth were represented by 22 (42%), both boys and girls,” the statement said.

Training for the week included the establishment of the demo garden which included setting up a nursery that enables participants to learn good nursery practices which included germinating seeds, pricking seedlings and transplanting. 

They also learnt how to prepare soil mixture with grated rotting coconut husks. 

Other activities included bee-keeping awareness, visits to farmers’ gardens as well as sharing 600 packets of seeds from KGA. 

During the visit, the KGA trainer Ms. Lodu was informed of the BOFA executive which includes chairman (Paul), Vice Chairman (Tango), Secretary (Paekea), Treasurer (Puia) and other committee members (Holland Teika, Haikiu Buka, Julia Temaine, Sarah Tamaotai, Elizabeth Sao and Chris Tepuke). 

KGA Trainer also confirmed BOFA’s registration certificate, constitution, and current membership of 35 individuals and households that totalled 35.

This consists of 20 males, 15 females (43%). 

Of the total membership, 16 or 46% are youth- combined girls and boys.

The executive committee is very pleased that the proportion of youth membership and training participants are relatively high- 46% and 42% respectively. 

This is encouraging because much of the objectives of BOFA aims at the current young people of the community and the future. 

At the closing of the training, BOFA leaders thanked PIFON for funding the training and establishment of their demo garden and supply of seeds. 

They also thanked KGA for the useful training and hope that this relationship will continue and grow as they see it as a way to will help BOFA achieve its priority objectives.

These objectives include; improve and ensure the nutrition and health of women and children as well as strengthen the capacity of their youth in traditional food security, develop and use appropriate gardening technologies to improve farm production for food security, and opportunities for earning livelihood income as well.

While the visit and training were a great success, Solomon Airlines' usual service on the Honiara-Renbel-Honiara flights was not. 

Ms. Lodu had to stay another week. However, she was happy with the extra few days being spent in Bellona because she had more time with her new-found friends and enjoyed the hospitality of the BOFA community.