About 2,000 farming households in the Solomon Islands will now access a stronger seed system following a partnership launch between Kastom Gaden Association (KGA) and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus program (PHAMA Plus).
The collaboration aims to address food and nutrition security concerns in the country which have been exacerbated by COVID-19, recent natural disasters and climate change by improving seed distribution and support systems for increased agricultural production.
PHAMA Plus, which is supported by Australia and New Zealand, will provide technical support and work with KGA to develop its commercial model to replicate, distribute and sell seeds and planting materials of nutritious local root crops, vegetables and fruits to farmer members and networks in Guadalcanal, Malaita and Western Provinces.
“This is a key area which needs to be reinforced to strengthen resilience and increase the sustainability of village farming of nutritious local root crops, fruits and vegetables,” KGA trust chairman Frank Tabaia said.
“Having a stronger seed system helps reduce dependence on purchased food, often imported food of low nutritional value and ease pressure on household budgets, which have been affected by reduced income from employment and remittances during the COVID-19 crisis.”
An analysis of the existing commercial, government and informal seed system in the Solomon Islands will be conducted at the start of the partnership and will provide recommendations on how to strengthen the seed system in Solomon Islands. This will lead to reduced vulnerability to shocks for farming households.
PHAMA Plus Senior National Facilitator Peter Ramohia said the partnership encourages self-reliance and sustainable, organic food production for farming households.
“This partnership places greater emphasis on food and nutrition security through support to domestic food marketing including import substitution, promotion of healthy local foods, and ensuring supply continuity for fresh produce with due consideration to improved hygiene and food safety,” Mr Ramohia said.
“PHAMA Plus will support KGA through inclusive training and assistance in setting up and managing community-based seed and staple food crop planting material production and distribution networks. This will include establishing and enhancing demonstration gardens.”
PHAMA Plus and KGA will also collaborate closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), members of the Livelihood Sector Committee (LSC) under the National Disaster Operations Committee (NDOC), Provincial Governments, farmer groups/organisations, rural training centres (RTCs) and other institutions.