A kava training aimed at sharing knowledge to farmers on Kava production in the Southern Region of Malaita Province was recently conducted at Afio Station, Small Malaita Constituency (SMC).

The three days training, from 7-9 October, was co-funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) through its Malaita Province Agriculture Extension office, Southern Region and the Small Malaita Constituency (SMC) office.

The training that was attended by 60 farmers from the different wards in South Malaita was officiated by the Member of Parliament for the constituency (SMC) Hon. Rick Houenipwela.

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Ethel Frances wish to acknowledge the support by the MP for South Malaita Constituency Hon. Rick Houenipwela because he not only co-funded the training but officiated the opening ceremony and also attended as a participant with his constituents.

“I can imagine the joy and motivation this is having on 60 constituency participants seeing their MP there with them down to that level of support,” said PS Frances.

She said that, “agriculture sector has huge potential to improve the lives of our people and economy and we can achieve more when all parties working with our rural people partner together and so I am grateful and touch by this gesture of support by MP for South Malaita and so I am calling on other constituency offices and Honourable Members to do the same.”

The Permanent Secretary said that, “the greatest gift leaders in such level of leadership can do is teach their constituents how to be self-sufficient than to dependent on them for everything.”

She added that the “sustainability of agriculture sector depends on our people having a reason or purpose to do farming like school fees, build a house and so on but if these are paid and provided for by their MPs then they have no reason to be out farming.”

The Ministry of Agriculture Principal Field Officer for Southern Region Willie Wate too was excited saying that “We expect an increase in kava production for the constituency (SMC) as the result of this training workshop.

“It was a successful training workshop and indeed an opportunity empowering the 60 participating farmers to acquire knowledge about the importance of Kava propagation, husbandry, harvesting and marketing,” Mr. Wate said.

Mr. Wate said that Kava is a new crop, therefore, there should be quality assurance in its (Kava) production (kava products) to market for a good and better return for local farmers.

“The practical sessions fully summarized the whole training especially when the actual kava management and husbandry practices were witnessed by participants,” Wate said.

He said the training was an eye opener for all the farmers in the constituency and really helpful for them as they venture into this new crop (Kava) cultivation.
Topics covered during the first day of training include;

• Kava history in the Solomon Islands
• Site selection
• Root stock selection
• Basic kava tools
• Nursery and direct planting and management
• Shades and its management
• Transplanting and plant spacing
• Field Management Practices
• Pest and Diseases Control
• Harvesting, cleaning, chipping and drying
• Quality Control and Assurance
• Kava Exporters/Buyers

“On day two participants involved in a full day kava practical training sessions. Demonstrations were done on a participant’s farm on all the topics covered during the first day of training but more specifically on root stock selection, nursery, direct planting, harvesting, cleaning, chipping and drying. A kava mound was also harvested during the practical session.

“All the farmers really enjoyed the practical sessions since most of them are yet to engage in harvesting of their produce. This is new information to them in assisting to produce the quality to the market. After the practical session they returned to the training venue for discussion and questioning for further clarification.

“All in all the practical summarizes the whole training as farmer participants are confident to look after and manage their farms as well as pass what has been learnt to other farmers within the constituency and the region,” Mr. Wate said.

Day three of training involved sessions on simple farm records and cashbook recording.

“These recording activities are important in managing of farming activities and the keeping of farming inputs. Participants (farmers) really appreciated the sessions because these records are important and will helpful for them when they want to seek further assistance from other donors.”

Mr. Wate added that this was the first ever biggest training held in the region particularly on Kava which involved specialist trainers/officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Extension Department.

Meanwhile, Director of MAL Extension Department Andrew Menanolu acknowledged the support that MP for Small Malaita Constituency Hon. Rick Hou through its constituency office provided to the program together with MAL that eventuated in training’s success.

He also thanked his Extension officers in Honiara and Malaita for the job well done in facilitating the training and making sure that right information are provided for farmers to improve their production especially in this new crop, Kava.

The training ended with presentation of certificates to farmer participants.

Source: MAL Media