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Monday, July 03, 2006

Chance for enterprenuers: A story of the famous taro in North Malaita highlands

By Moffat Mamu (Weekend Magazine)

Up in the highlands of North Malaita families are harvesting their taro farm land - some as big as the show ground at Town Ground.

As they toughen their load back to their small kitchen huts, each family silently prays that someone will come by and exchange their taro bags with "red money".
For these highlanders this had been the practise of their forefathers.Unfortunately today, the demand is not so high as before, this sometimes leave the families to watch their 10 or so bags of taro rot inside their kitchen huts.

Those who don't want to see this happen, take an hour's walk down hill to the main road to catch transport for Auki Market or any nearest market.But when the supply is high and demand low in Auki, these farmers also loss out. Therefore, to avoid this some went as far as transporting their taro to Honiara to sell at Central Market.
Most of the time those travelling to Honiara don't make any profit at all. For them coming to Honiara means a double loss but just because they don't want to see the fruits of their labour rot in front of their eyes they have to come to this extent.
How long will this go on for? is the question villagers in the highlands always asked themselves as they seek ways to sell their produce.

Then, like an answer to the people's prayers, few days ago Kwaitau villagers heard of a trade fair to be held in Honiara and the opportunity the fair is offering for local producers.

That trade fair is Techmart 2006.

Immediately the villagers sent a representative to find out more about this fair. Lawrence Gwaroia is the villagers' representative.The idea was for him to come, find out, return to Malaita, gather the people's taro harvests and transport them to Honiara for the trade fair.

However, this did not happen because of the limited time he had.

As a result, in his determination and continuous effort to ensure his people's taro produce is showcased, he went and purchase few fruits from a Kwaitau villager at Central Market.

The purchase is what he is currently displaying at Techmart 2006 trade fair today.
"I am displaying these but I'm still not satisfied because I'm sitting here with nothing while there are bags back home to be showcased and sold." He said since the show started on Monday, people have been pressuring him to sell the taro.

"Some asked to taste the taro so I cooked a few and sell the slices for $2 and in just an hour every thing was swept. "There was also a woman who came by begging me to sell her one of the fruits which I did, but I cannot go on selling the fruits because where else will I get my supply from in Honiara."

Despite this concern, Lawrence has a plan and that is to return to Malaita on friday last week, gather all the taro produces and return with them early this week.

"When I'm away a relative will be looking after this stall and continue explaining to the people about this fruit."

But why is Lawrence so determined to promote the North Malaita highlanders' taro?
Well according to him, this trade fair is his people's only chance to show to the government and the general public what highlanders have.

"I'm doing this because my people want to find out if there is market overseas for taro and the possibility of us exporting taro overseas. I bet you if there is a market we can meet their demand because like I said our garden taro are very big, so big that a family can filled 10 to 20 bags in one harvest."

In North Malaita, people from Fo'ondo to Lau Baelelea are planting taro which is harvested after every six or seven months. Lawrence said he had heard of a website to be launched by the Forum Secretariat featuring the local products, manufactures and services in Solomon Islands and he must ensure taro is also featured on that site.

Lawrence story is just one of many being told at the trade fair today by small and medium entrepreneurs.

source: Solomon Star ( )


  • At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a waste of sweat and hard work for these villagers, but hooray for the "Techmart 2006" and Lawrence Gwaroia for bring the taro to the attention of Solomon Islanders. I just want to say that i think there are lots of ways to make taro into another source of money by, making them into chips!
    It is done here in Queensland, Australia by taro farmers. But am not so sure about how it is done.
    Cassava and banana is also done in the same way. Maybe if these farmers can do that, they will not let their crops go to waste.
    I do love to eat these banana, cassava and taro chips, they are lovely. And i would love to see a Solomon Islands product out there.
    What say?!!

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