Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community

Breaking the Long Walk

At Tom Daoni’s village, women have died giving birth at home. his village Molotobe in Malaita province of Solomon Islands is located about 20 kilometres from the nearest health facility at Kwailabesi. It is a long walk if you don’t have the means to hire a truck.

Sometimes, he saw ‘bush beds’ carrying pregnant women from deep within the forests, even further from Molotobe. At Molotobe, they’d be transferred into a truck bound for Kwailabesi. Others have had to walk the distance to the health centre and some have delivered their children and died on the way.

The struggle inspired the setup of Gurafesu biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change Community Development Association (GbCCCCDA). The group started out at Molotobe and now has a branch at April ridge in Honiara, and focusses on providing organic farming skills to its members. The training courses are focussed around key thematic areas: biodiversity, organic gardening, sustainable land management, and climate change and livelihood empowerment.

A percentage of the earnings of members through the sales of their organic crops go into building essential services like a health centre at Molotobe. ‘In assisting our village, we are helping other forest communities, that are more isolated than us,’ Daoni said. ‘We encourage a lot of backyard gardening so the community is also food secure.’

Tom Daoni is a 30-year-old founding member of GbCCCCDA and coordinates all activities. Rotary Australia is building a health clinic valued at AUD 50,000 at Molotobe as a result of seeing the efforts
and successes of GbCCCCDA. As the building grows, so do the villagers’ hopes that the long walks to reach medical assistance will end. he said organic agriculture has been a useful tool for his community’s development and has allowed the locals to enjoy the rights and access to basic health services. Daoni is a business finance graduate of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU). Farming is central to his life. ‘When I was in high school I experienced financial problems so I used to farm to pay for my school fees.’

‘I love farming because I love to watch the plants grow and the harvest makes me smile especially the selling part, it’s all exciting! Sometimes weekend long I’m at the market selling.’

‘Now we have a clinic in the community and it will really help hundreds of people especially our women who have suffered for so long. Giving birth to life shouldn’t be a deathly experience. We could change the way things were and organic farming really assisted us.’

‘Our young people too are able to earn an income. We started in Molotobe and farmers sell at the local market. here at April ridge, where we started later we plant all kinds of vegetables and root crops and supply the University (SINU).’

‘We make good money from it and encourage each other to keep farming organically for the sake of our village developments. We see organic farming as a solution for Solomon Island farmers because they don’t have to worry about the cost of fertilisers and besides its good for the environment and the soil.’

‘Soil is what we have, what we can use to change our circumstances, to enable our people access crucial health services.’ there are about 200 farmers that are members of GbCCCCDA. The group aims to have a wider influence beyond Molotobe and dreams of a Solomon Islands with a large, extensive network of organic farmers.

‘We believe with organic farming we will be able to set an example for all Solomon communities,’ Daoni said. ‘One community can start the change’.

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