Farm supervisor in conversation with SIAVRTC donor partner, the Bamnford scheme at APSD Farm at his recent visit to the country to assess and look at the Agriculture Tutu Pliot trial at APSD RTC , malaita .
SOLOMON Islands Association of Vocational Rural Training Centre (SIAVRTS) has established an agriculture trial farming scheme at two Rural Training Centres (RTC) in Malaita and Guadalcanal.
The two year pilot organic farming scheme was established in 2012 under the funding of BAMFORD scheme, an Australian who established a link with SIAVRTS few years ago.
Trial sites are located at Asia Pacific Sustainable Development (APSD) Rural Training Centre at Fiu, Malaita, and DIVIT RTC at Visale, Guadalcanal.
Director of the SIAVRTS Billy Mae said the objective of this project is to open the door to the future for unemployed youths by providing training in order to become farmers and self-reliant.
“There are varieties of cash crops the young farmers have planted, which include Kumara, lettuce, long bean, capsicum cabbage, egg plant and others root crops and all the cash crops have a high demand on the local market and are fetched on a good price at the market.
“To begin, the young farmers at APSD RTC and DIVIT RTC are required to to plant the cash crops on their own land and the land of the training centre to learn new farming technical knowledge and skills, including marketing, budgeting and planning.
“Although there are now relatively good opportunities for the formal education in the country the opportunity for formal employment is extremely limited.
“So the the main emphasis is on using the RTC land and their own land for self employment and income generating projects,” said Mr Mae. DIVIT RTC has registered 15 female farmers and APSD RTC 15 male farmers to be part of the two years trial pilot project.
Mr Mae said that at the end of the two years of the farming and technical training the farmers will be awarded new bank saving accounts instead of achieving a certificate awards.
“We have opened their own bank accounts to enable them to save their money from the sale of their crops, they have managed to farm over the past two years.
“The aim of the centre is to offer the trial organic farming pilot scheme to prepare young interested farmers in their communities to be rural self-employed; and to be empowered to become more independent and take charge of their lives instead of involving in organised criminal activities in their own society.
He added that most of the farmers have acknowledged the centre for giving them the opportunity in the trial project, which has immensely benefited them from involving in criminal activities.
“Most of the farmers have returned to productive lives, earning a livelihood from the farming of their own land.
SIAVRTS has set up a working committee, which has representative from Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment in ensuring the trial plot scheme can expand to other existing RTCs in other provinces in Solomon Islands.