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In a significant milestone for the development of sustainable agriculture in Solomon Islands, two organic farms were launched as organic learning farm centres yesterday at the Kastom Garden Association in Honiara.
The farms are part of the groundbreaking Pacific Organic Learning Farms Network (POLFN) Project implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC). The Farms Network will promote agroecological approaches to implement organic practice and foster knowledge exchange among small-holder farmers in Solomon Islands.
In his keynote address, the Permanent Secretary for Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Mr Lottie Vaisakavea, shared, “The launch of the organic learning farms today symbolises our commitment to embrace change and embark on a transformative journey towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural landscape.”
“These learning farms will serve as beacons of knowledge and innovation, where farmers, researchers, and policymakers can come together to exchange ideas, learn from one another, and evolve our farming practices to align with the needs of our environment.”
Through close collaboration of SPC’s Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Kastom Gaden Association and funding through the Kiwa Initiative, the Solomon Islands Organic Learning Farms will serve as centres of excellence for organic agriculture, providing a platform for farmers to learn and apply innovative techniques that enhance productivity and reduce reliance on harmful chemical inputs.
The POLFN Project has released a call for expression of interest for “first circle farmers” in Solomon Islands with the aim of collaborating with 100 small-holder farmers to form Solomon Islands Organic Learning Farms Network. The network will grow through on-site demonstrations, training programmes, knowledge-sharing workshops, and empowering farmers with the latest scientific knowledge, practical skills, and agroecological farming techniques suitable to the local context.
Lesley Sanga from the Gwa’unafiu Organic Learning Farm remarked that he is excited about what the organic learning farm will mean for small-holder farmers and youth in Malaita province: having a learning centre means more people will have a better mindset in approaching organics and agroecology.
At the event, SPC extended its gratitude to local and international partners whose collaborative efforts made the Organic Learning Farm Network initiative possible. By leveraging expertise and resources, Solomon Islands Organic Learning Farms will provide an invaluable platform for collaboration and knowledge-sharing, facilitating the dissemination of organic and agroecological farming practices and supporting the creation of a vibrant network of organic farmers.
The POLFN project is supported by Kiwa, an initiative that manages funding from the European Union, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Global Affairs Canada (GAC), Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). The Initiative’s implementing partners include SPC, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Oceania Regional Office of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
POETCom is the peak body for organic movement in the Pacific region. It is a membership organization of farmers' associations, farmer support organisations, NGOs, private sector, and research institutions working with governments across the Pacific. POETCom is hosted by the Land Resources Division (LRD) of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji.