Existing and prospecting Noni farmers in the country are recommended to seek technical advice from the responsible authority that is the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) through its Extension Department for specifics on Noni crop.
Noni Development Program Coordinator within MAL Extension Department, Selwyn Meplu uttered the statement as many farmers seen going into nurturing this new cash crop with little knowledge about it.
“Since Noni is a new crop, it is important that farmers get correct information about it from MAL research and extension officers to make sure they know how to grow it sustainably in the country,” Mr. Meplu said.
He said Noni is a new crop and from initial assessment it highlighted numerous issues with regards to noni varieties, farming systems, planting methods, nutrient requirements, irrigation requirement, pest and diseases. Therefore, it is necessary that farmers must seek information and guidance from MAL on how to sustainably grow it in Solomon Islands to support livelihoods.”
He said only through research work and technical advice from rightful authority (MAL), some of the highlighted issues can be identified and resolved.
“Advice to the current noni farmers and other interested farmers from other provinces and parts of Guadalcanal Province, as a Noni Program Coordinator, is to seek advice from MAL Extension program coordination office, as mentioned the nature of noni fruit is perishable and requirement is that it must reach the processing unit (factory) within 12 hours from field picking. Therefore, growing noni in other provinces or parts of Guadalcanal province outside the catchment area of KG Noni Factory is not advisable until such time a roll out of noni growing development strategy is developed by relevant agencies. The advice is, processing unit/factory first, then noni planting roll out to other provinces, as noni only takes 7- 8 months for fruiting,” Mr. Meplu explained.
“Noni development which is now an industry is a private initiative by private sector (North West Guadalcanal Constituency Subsistent Farmers Association) initiated by Member of Parliament for Northwest Guadalcanal Hon. Bodo Dettke as a constituency Development program. And thereon, farmers outside the constituency see going into noni growing with great interest, in recent years especially North East and Central Guadalcanal. Recently, farmers from the provinces within the country were enquiring about the crop with great interest to go into noni farming.
“With that, recently in 2020 government (SIG), through MAL Extension Department take on board the Noni Development program under its Sustainable Economic Growth and Export Strengthening (SEGES) development programme. The coverage and program development concentration was within Variana, West Guadalcanal and Barande in East Guadalcanal. The reason was that; the harvested noni fruits must reach the noni processing factory within 12 hours, in order to maintain quality as required by the product quality assurance,” Mr. Meplu emphasized.
On 12th July 2021, MAL through its Extension and Research departments staged a successful Noni field day at T.W. Enterprise Noni Farm located at the former Livestock Development Authority (LDA) area in the outskirt of East Honiara.
The field day has attracted 49 farmers from East Guadalcanal, Central Guadalcanal and Honiara suburb to share their experiences, sharpen skills and learn firsthand facts about noni crop/tree.
Mr. Meplu said the field day was the first of its kind and an important one for farmers to learn and share experiences together regarding noni husbandry.
“The field day demonstrations are important for the farmers, because the noni agronomical issues faced by noni farmers are identified and highlighted in actual situation out in the noni field by specialised technical professionals rather in the office or classroom training. Also, less time is required to reach more farmers by addressing their common problems and issues regarding their noni farming,” Mr. Meplu added.
Meanwhile Mr. Meplu on behalf of MAL applauded and acknowledged the noni farmers that attended the successfully staged Noni Field Day at T.W. Enterprise Noni Farm.
He said without the farmer’s presence, the field day would not have achieve its aims and objectives.
Developing the Noni industry and others like kava and cassava is one of the key policy priority of the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) therefore the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) remains committed to it.