MORE than 240 seaweed farmers in Choiseul and Malaita Provinces have undergone a training aimed at equipping them with financial knowledge on how to manage their finance gained from their seaweed farms.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), with support from the New Zealand Government, through the Mekem Strong Solomon Island Fisheries (MSSIF) Programme, delivered a series of one-day training courses in September and October.
This was part of the ongoing support to the development of a successful and profitable seaweed farming industry in the country.
With the increase numbers of farmers in the country, it was revealed that Solomon islands is now the largest exporter of dried seaweed within the Pacific, with exports increasing by over 70% from 2012 to 2013.
Chief fishery officer Aquaculture, Alex Meloti said their staff delivered the training courses to the seaweed farmers from Wagina and Sarekana communities in Choiseul Province in September and to the seaweed farmers in Manaoba, North Malaita in October.
Both locations are major seaweed producing areas in the country.
A total of 243 seaweed farmers, which included 138 men and 105 women attended the workshops, where they were trained in basic bookkeeping and seaweed farm financial management.
In Choiseul, about 72 males and 49 females came from Wagina, 10 males and 12 females from Sarekana. While in Malaita and 56 males and 44 females came from Manaoba.
Mr Meloti said , the training courses are part of a larger nationwide seaweed development project the MFMR has been operating for the past decade, supported since 2012 by MSSIF, which has an overall goal of assisting the communities of the Solomon Islands to develop sustainable and economically profitable marine and coastal livelihood opportunities.
He added the course content and training program was specifically designed by the MFMR to be informative and useful for the seaweed farmers and was delivered in a format that was easily understood, practically and directly related to the financial management of a seaweed farming operation.
“The course was interactive, allowing participants to discuss their issues and concerns and included both theoretical and practical components that explained the processes required to successfully operate a small business.
“Practical sessions involved participants calculating business activities using seaweed farming costs and discussing issues that can prevent their businesses from developing.”
Practical solutions that can be undertaken by the farmers to reduce business expenses and increase profits were also part of the training course.
This resulted in a business template being developed, that is easy to use to record all daily financial transactions.
At the close of each training program, all participants were asked to evaluate the course and highlighted areas that can be improved. This feedback has helped the Ministry to improve on the training packages.
The MFMR will be delivering similar seaweed financial training courses to other seaweed farmers throughout the nation during next year.
By SOLOMON LOFANA