A recent visit by a KGA staff to Mr Peter Warito’s new village of Nossa, east Makira, where he builts his new ‘Livelihood Information and Planting Material Access Centre’ which is known as LIPAC, is a living proof of a simple village model for rural communities. Clement Hadosaia who is on tour to Nana Rural Training Centre had extended his trip to visit Mr Warito, a lead farmer and planting material network member of KGA, compiles this report.
Mr Warito is a natural agriculturalist who takes pride of his previous agriculture related trainings at the St. Martins Rural Training Centre and subsequent organic farming trainings with Kastom Gaden Association (KGA). His involvement with KGA dates back some 7 years ago, when he is appointed as a Field Officer and later on become a Regional Coordinator for Makira/ Ulawa province, under the previous ‘Sustainable Livelihood for Isolated Rural Areas Project (SLIRAP)’. He has since retired to his home village of Makorukoru on East Makira after the project ends in 2008.
His time with KGA has enabled him to learn a lot in most aspects of Organic Farming methods including food processing. He sees his years of involvement in KGA’s work as a blessing, as he come to appreciate and understand fully the merit of KGA’s programs in Organic Agriculture and Livelihood development. He believes that what KGA advocates and practices is best for the rural setting, if every one could put it into practice. There is the sustainability of land use which can reduce land pressure as a result of increasing population and most importantly the hot issue of Climate Change, which the world is fighting to abate its effects. Solomon Islands as an island nation is no exemption, when it comes to climate change, he said.
As a practising member of KGA’s Planting Material Network (PMN), Mr Warito wants to put to use his knowledge and skills that he has gained over the years. He commented, people won’t change their traditional way of doing things if you just keep on talking every time. They can only change and adapt when they see you practising it and realise the benefits of what you are talking about, he said.
The break from paid employment and his eventual return to the village has enabled him to put to use what he often talks about, during his field visits around the province. He sees his chance of doing things in a populated village was limited, so he decided to move out from the main village to a nearbly customary land owned by his tribe. That was three years ago when he started the LIPAC centre, which is at the Star Harbour peninsula. His family had moved there permanently and started a model village, where they grow all sorts of root crop varieties, vegetables, fruit trees and start to breed local chickens and ducks. Being a trained rice grower, he also grows rice in one plot to subsititude his food supplies incase he gets low yield from his root crop garden and during bad weather. Apparently, he dislikes dogs for some good reasons.
Within his garden, he has separate plots for potatoes, cassava, yam, pana, vegetables and also practiced intercroping. He usually plants his crops on a rotation basis and applies heavy mulching, which enables him to keep working on the same plot of land for more than 3 years now and continues to produce good yields. On the edge of his gaden he plant fruit trees and on one end is his banana plantation. Apart from where his gaden and dwelling house are located, the virgin forest is still in tact which he want it conserved for nature’s habitat.
Mr Warito is a skillful public speaker and often he would go out to Star Harbour provincial station especially during the Saturday market day and other important occassions to talk about the importance and principles of Organic Farming, Food Security and Sustainable Land Management. He told Mr Hadosaia that the people were very interested in his talks, as he will also put on display the processed products, root crops and cuttings of the planting materials. After the awareness talk, he will sell his produce and distribute the planting materials to those interested for free.
Today within the Star Harbour Provincial Station and in surrounding villages, you will see people using the waste from kitchen and leaves in their mini backyard gardens and fruit trees rather than burning them as before. A teacher at Star Harbour Community High School Mr Brian commented, that the change are the result of KGA’s work which Mr Warito has often talked about in their area. Today, the people are seeing the benefits of Organic Farming and what Mr Warito and KGA are advocating in their program, he added.
People within the Star Harbour Area had visited LIPAC Center to see what they are doing and to collect planting materials. Some had undergone short term attachment with Mr Peter Warito in his farm to learn and get first hand knowledge and skill. A top Makira/ Ulawa provincial delegation had also visited his center after learning about the work LIPAC and Mr Warito is doing. The team were impressed about what they had witnessed and encouraged him to continue the good work.