More than 4,000 noni trees now lay waste when the main local buyer stopped purchasing noni fruit.

Don Sovekibo, a local farmer from Aruligo in north west Guadalcanal, says he is losing close to SBD$8,000 per week.

Mr Sovekibo said the main buyer, Solomon Noni Corporation, stopped purchasing noni fruits from local farmers, blaming the COVID-19 pandemic for their decision to do so.

“The farm is now overtaken by thick bush, which is a waste, we had some big plans when we started planting noni in 2017. I only started harvesting the fruits early last year, and I saw the return in terms of money was good.

“I was encouraged by this so I employed some people in my community, and I made plans to plant another 4,000 so we could double our earnings.

“I am discouraged by what happened, a lot of time and effort has been wasted, but I have to look at other options like cassava or vegetables. I will Just focus on the local market, because all these good stories about the overseas market have not worked out,” said a determined Sovekibo.

He said he had applied for the stimulus package and despite being assured that he meets the criteria he was not successful.

Sovekibo says now that flights have opened up, he is also planning to put his farming skills to good use by applying for the seasonal work scheme in Australia.

“While waiting, I just want to raise some capital to expand in agriculture and maintain this noni farm, hopefully, the noni market will open up soon.”

The government, through its Economic Stimulus Package initiative, injected SBD$1.2 million dollars into the noni industry. Much of the support was directed to the Solomon Noni Cooperation.

The government said at the time that the support was to fortify the noni industry, keeping it afloat to support rural farmers by way of a steady market for their produce.

It is understood the international market for noni plummeted as COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain, which goes as far as Europe.