Huge boost for Arabala School farming program

School management, students and MAL officials and UNDP rep witnesses the handing over ceremony
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ARABALA Community High School in Malaita Province will now be able to improve its farming program with the handover of new agricultural machineries and manual farming tools from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) at the school last month.

The ministry (MAL) officially handed over input’s worth over $50,000 to the High School in the Central Kwara’ae constituency at a brief ceremony on Wednesday, 31 March 2021.

The inputs included a walking tractor power tiller procured in partnership with the UNDP Markets for Change (M4C) Project via the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi Partner Trust Fund last year. 

Parent Teacher Association head, Edward Sui described the handover as a joyous occasion for the school.

“We look forward to our future cooperation after this handover to ensure the school’s agricultural development,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the school’s primary division, Dick Diko said the agriculture machines is a new technology and a milestone achievement for the school.

“This machine will help us also achieve the government’s goal to alleviate poverty in our areas and assist us to improve our livelihoods and standard of living,” he said.

Arabala Community High School students.

School Principal Michael Gwaro said with the agriculture machineries and inputs, Arabala School are now partners with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

“The school is now truly partnering in the aims and goals of MAL,” Gwaro said.

“The agriculture machines will improve our farming program and ensure we are able to address food security in our community and catchment areas,” he added.

Chief Field Officer of MAL, also National Agriculture Livelihoods Improvement & Export Based Expansion, MacDonnell Hiva said the objective of these machines is to support Solomon Islands farming families and communities increase food production and improve food security and nutrition.

“To help achieve improved food security, we need input machines that would improve labor efficiency,” Hiva said.

“For instance, one machine can do the labor of one hundred students in one hour,” he added.

“Our productivity and garden harvest will increase and increased production in our farms means more nutritious food is readily available for families and communities.

“The Ministry expects the school to fully utilize the machines in the farm to achieve its purpose.”

Field demonstration

Arabala Community High School serves 14 catchment communities in the Central Kwara’ae Constituency and estimates over 5,000 people benefits from its farming program.

The school was selected as a beneficiary under the Ministry’s National Food security and Enhancement program – an ongoing initiative addressing food security and nutrition insufficiencies in families and communities.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in partnership with UNDP Markets for Change Project procured agricultural inputs via the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi Partner Trust Fund in 2020.

These included walking tractor power tillers, base power tillers, chainsaws and grass cutters all sourced from agricultural machinery suppliers in Honiara.

MAL beneficiaries were identified under its National Food security and Enhancement program (Model Farm Project).

Markets for Change Project beneficiaries are the Auki Market Vendors Association, Gizo Market Vendors Association and the Honiara Market Vendors Association.