Kava is now becoming a lucrative cash crop in Solomon Islands.
Since its commercialization, the crop has attracted enormous interest among rural farmers to venture into Kava farming with the hope to reap its economic benefits for an improved livelihood and social wellbeing.
But achieving such is not an overnight dream as it takes proper planning and management.
That’s according to Casper Manelogu, a specialized Kava growing trainer from Isabel Province who accompanied a team of agriculture extension officers from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) from Honiara, Gizo and Munda to conduct a training on kava growing for farmers from communities around the Roviana lagoon at Nusa Hope, Patmos village in Western Province recently.
“I am pleased to see the enthusiasm from you all who have gathered here for this four days training.
“You have sacrifice your precious family time and busy schedules to be here because you want to be successful in growing kava.
“Such motivation signifies your willingness to learn and acquire new knowledge and skills to further improve your farming techniques as kava farmers,” Manelegu told the farmers.
The training was important because it supplement traditional knowledge and encourage farmers to improved farming practices and methods for producing high quality kava for domestic and overseas market.
It was conducted in both theory and practical field demonstrations, covering site and soil selection, nursery, transplanting, mulching, pruning, pest and disease identification and good and sound management practices, kava harvesting, washing and cleaning, chipping and cutting as well as drying.
It brings together around 40 farmers, most of whom have been growing kava but with very basic knowledge on how to properly manage the crop for high yielding.
Principal field officer for Munda agriculture extension Matthew Sakiri told the participants the Ministry is pleased to have organized the training for Roviana lagoon farmers because of the big interest from the communities.
Sakiri encouraged the participants to show commitment and utilize the training opportunity to learn and upgrade their knowledge about the crop in order to become successful in growing it.
He said this is not the last training to be held for Western province but will continue to other parts of the province in the future.
Generally, both the first and second grade kava species are farmed by the Nusa Hope farmers.
According to the participants each farming family owns a kava plot of about 0.5 hectares even up to around 10 hectares.
Chief David Hetu one of the lead Kava farmers from Patmos village expressed their delight for the opportunity to have them trained about the proper management practices.
“All of us participating at this training have been planting kava for the past years and have reaped its benefits already but it was done with very basic knowledge.
“The past days of training is very refreshing, for we have learnt a lot of new ideas and techniques that will certainly improve our farming.
“It is now up to us, the farmers to apply all that were have learnt during this training,” he said.
Mr Hetu therefore thank the agriculture officers and the government through the Ministry agriculture and livestock for providing the training opportunity for his farmers.
The agriculture Ministry has been supporting Kava farming in the country under its Livelihood and Export Base Expansion Project.