Obadiah Malokana is a 45-year-old who has spent most of his adult life as a farmer in Rabakela, Choiseul province.
Rabakela is a two-hour boat ride from the provincial capital, Taro. Obadiah often leaves his home very early in the morning, just so that he gets a good spot at the Taro market.
Solomon Times Online caught up with him as he was setting up his stall, bags of peanuts lined his small stall. He was not always a peanut farmer though, the pandemic changed everything for him.
"I was a copra farmer ever since I was a young man. I work maybe 12 hours a day doing copra in my plantation, it was hard work, but it was good for my family.
"I set out early hours and walk to the plantation few hours away and spend the whole day breaking the coconut fruits,” Obadiah said.
He said early this year he noticed the price of copra falling, which got worse towards May. Farmers were hardest hit when international borders closed as a result of the pandemic. The effects could be felt by a village farmer thousands of miles away from some of the key copra markets.
Obadiah said he had to explore other options and decided to focus on a crop that has high local demand, good yield, and can be produced all year round.
“I looked at many options, but I found that peanuts were still very popular, and it was easy to farm all year round. So, I set out to plant peanuts, and the good thing is the farm is now close to my house.
“I tested a few different soil mix with the peanuts, and monitored it, and I was happy with the result when it was time for harvest,” Obadiah said, pointing out some of the different varieties at his stall.
"The Covid-19 is very difficult for farmers if you depend on oversea price, because now with everywhere affected people will not demand some of our crops.
“I say to myself that the local market is best for us farmers especially with the Covid-19, because the price is always stable and there are always customers ready to buy,” Obadiah said.
He says the only challenge for him now is the trip to Taro market, which is often dictated by the weather and the availability of boats willing to make the trip.
"No matter how hard this Covid-19 is affecting us, me and my family will still survive. Nothing will stop me from coming to sell my peanuts here,” he said.
"I usually usually make $400 or $500 can be earned a day, which is a lot more than copra," Obadiah said.
He says he was able to set up a small canteen at his home village, and always buys cargoes of mixed goods to stock up after a day at the market. Obadiah says it is better to return home with cargo than just money, another form of income for his family.
Obadiah is now known as the peanut man at the Taro market, something he is immensely proud off.