Dear Editor – David Friend was born in Hampshire in 1940. He obtained a BSc (Agric) from Reading University and a DTA from the University of the West Indies. He was appointed as tree crops agronomist to the British Solomon Island Protectorate during 1964 and was posted to Dala Research Station on Malaita.
At Dala he undertook basic agronomic research into the cocoa crop which included studies into spacing, fertiliser application, shade and most importantly selection of cultivars best suited for Solomon Islands conditions.
He also worked on processing technology and, with the plant pathologist and entomologist, on diseases and pests of the crop.
During 1972 he was transferred to Ndodo Creek Research Station on Guadalcanal, where he worked on cocoa, coconuts and oil palm (in collaboration with the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC). During this time he assisted with the joint coconut research work at Yandina (Russell Islands) in collaboration with Levers Plantations Ltd.
His work included the intercropping of cocoa and coconuts on the Guadalcanal Plains and at Yandina. He was appointed as Chief Research Officer during the late 1970s.
On leaving Government service he was appointed as Research Officer for Levers Solomons Ltd (LSL) coconut plantation when Levers Pacific Plantations Ltd became a joint venture with the Solomon Islands Government. During 1983 he was posted to East Malaysia as General Manager of Pamol Sabah (oil palm).
He took up the position of Managing Director of LSL at Yandina, Solomon Islands during 1986, and held this position until 1995.
He retired to Bundaberg, Australia after the Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) took over LSL and created a subsidiary company called Russell Islands Plantations Estates Ltd (RIPEL).
He was a Board member of CEMA and provided a collaborative link between the industry and CEMA. He was also instrumental in harmonising the smooth take-over of LSL by CEMA during 1995/96.
David was one of the hard working young agricultural scientists that were fortunate to be posted to the Solomon Islands during the 1960/70s where little, if any, agricultural research work had been done previously, and where importantly there was little active local political pressure for independence.
He, like his peers in varied disciplines, was able to make a substantial contribution to agricultural development in the Solomons through acquisition of knowledge.
For instance, the annual production of cocoa now stands at about
5,000 tons, which is a substantial increase from the less than 100 tons per annum of the 1960s. David was awarded an MBE for services to agricultural development in the Solomon Islands.
David had a good sense of humour, was excellent company and was affectionately known as ‘the Major’ due to his jocular claim of having served in the ‘Hampshire Mudguards’.
I have inserted below a statement from one of his colleagues, Moses Pelomo, who started his career at Dala Research Station and also worked at CEMA. It succinctly summarises David’s contribution to the Solomon Islands.
“I can confidently say that David and Carol remain true friends of the Solomon Islands and Solomon Islanders for their important contribution to the economic development of the nation, as well as friends indeed to their workers, work- mates and the public in general.”
David will be always remembered not only for his dedication of work but also for his friendship to the rural people. The legacy of his work still supports Solomon Islands by enabling over 70,000 rural households, representing
420,000 people (76 percent of total population) to make a reliable living in farming coconut and cocoa and bringing in over SBD200-300 million in foreign receipts to the Solomon Islands. May his soul rest in peace.
Our condolences to Carol, family and friends.”
David Gollifer (with help from Carol Friend, Moses Pelomo and Grahame Jackson)