Home News The Mangrove Queen of Bina: The Inspiring Rural Journey of Joyce Siu

The Mangrove Queen of Bina: The Inspiring Rural Journey of Joyce Siu

Sponsored Advertisement

October 15 is the International Day of Rural Women and provides an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of rural women worldwide. Rural women play key roles in their families, communities, and countries, and yet they are often severely disadvantaged, economically, socially, and politically. As we celebrate International Day of Rural Women, let’s explore Joyce Siu’s story of Bina village, which reflects her determination.

Bina village, located in the Malaita province of the Solomon Islands, is a special place where both nature and culture are highly treasured. Along the coastline, lies a mangrove forest giving sustenance to the people. They have dances, stories, and beautiful handcrafted items that have been a part of their lives for a very long time. These people are not just famous for growing sweet pineapples but also produce a local delicacy called “Ko’a” that are a source of income and symbolize their way of life, and their traditions are a big part of their daily life.

RSIPF PG23 Strip

Joyce Siu, known as the “Mangrove Queen,” is one of the many rural women in Bina who depend on the collection of mangrove seedlings or fruits for her livelihood. Joyce lived in the coastal village where seedling fruits from the mangrove Rhizophora stylosa, commonly known as the spotted mangrove, red mangrove, small stilted mangrove or stilt-root mangrove, is a tree in the family Rhizophoraceae. Rhizopora stylosa locally known as Koa are crucial for her family’s food and money. Joyce’s daily routine takes her to the mangrove forest, where she would rise before the sun and begin collecting the precious mangrove fruits. Joyce wants economic independence by collecting mangrove fruits, aiming to lift her community and family out of poverty and ensure no one goes hungry. She also saw the importance of protecting these ecosystems for environmental conservation.

Joyce’s goal is also to empower women in her community with skills, promote sustainable resource management, preserve cultural traditions, provide better market access, and enhance climate resilience by engaging in the sustainable collection of mangrove fruits. Considering Joyce’s age, at 62 she faces a unique set of challenges and vulnerabilities in her pursuit of collecting mangrove fruits. Physically, as she ages, her ability to navigate the challenging mangrove environment becomes increasingly limited. Joyce’s strength and mobility reduced, making the collection of mangrove fruits even more challenging and physically demanding. The seasonality of the mangrove fruits adds another layer of complexity, the mangrove trees bore fruit only during specific periods, making harvesting and market fluctuations inevitable. However, during the off-season, when mangrove fruits were immature, she ingeniously turned to making bean cakes, providing an additional source of income and diversifying her offerings.

Furthermore, Joyce struggles with the impacts of climate change, which affects the mangrove ecosystems she relies on for her livelihood. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and changing mangrove ecosystems disrupt her collection activities, adding another layer of unpredictability and risk to her work. Joyce’s fears were numerous but rarely voiced. She feared that her children might not inherit the same way of life she had. She fears that the rising sea levels and natural disasters can take away the very mangroves that had been her lifelong companion. Yet, despite these fears, her determination remained firm, for the mangroves had become a part of her life.

As Joyce aged, her family, including her children and grandchildren, stepped in to support her. The collective strength of the community and her family offered her the assurance that she was not alone in her journey. And while these challenges remain, Joyce found herself in a better position to face them. Joyce was a determined woman. Her life is knotted with dreams of economic stability, access to quality education for her children, improved health, and empowerment. She aims to contribute to her community’s development, preserve vital natural resources like mangroves, and become a successful entrepreneur. Joyce realize that her dreams were not just aspirations; they were becoming her reality.

She was known far for her cooking expertise, particularly in the land of exotic and rare fruits. One of her favourite ingredients was the mangrove fruit, which not many people knew how to use in cooking. She was talented at cooking different mangrove recipes and her favourite was mangrove fruit soup. She could masterfully blend the flavours of mangrove soup with rich coconut cream, creating a delectable experience that leaves a lasting impression. Her skill extends to crafting authentic dishes, such as baked fish paired with mangrove fruits and marine shells, offering a unique and delightful culinary journey.

But Ko’a cooking creativity knows no limitations. Going beyond tradition, this traditional food item was innovatively tried with a spaghetti-inspired recipe that showcases its versatility in the art of food.

Joyce’s commitment to authenticity went beyond just taste; she wants to preserve the mangrove ecosystem and support the local community. She actively engages in sustainable harvesting practices, ensuring that the mangroves continued to thrive. She would often organize community events, teaching others about the significance of mangrove conservation and the delicious possibilities the fruits offered.

Joyce is very conscious of the significance of safeguarding the mangrove ecosystem. Although the mangrove trees had potential as firewood, she was exceptionally dedicated to protecting the mangrove ecosystem, refusing to allow the cutting down of mangrove trees for firewood, instead, she initiated a mangrove replanting, ensuring the sustainability of this vital resource for her community and the generations to come.


By John Ice

What you think?

Sponsored Advertisement
Solomon Water