A new plant nursery set up in Honiara by the European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) Project, which is implemented by SPC’s Land Resources Division, is helping to conserve and promote important Solomon Islands nut and timber trees.
Located at Lunga on the outskirts of Honiara, the nursery grows high quality seedlings of valuable timber and nut tree species which are in great demand overseas. The seedlings are sold to plantation growers, enabling them to sustainably increase their production of nuts and timber for export markets.
The nursery, which is a collaborative effort between a local landowning community and the FACT Project, carries out important conservation work, protecting and utilising the genetic diversity of the most valuable local tree species in Solomon Islands.
‘The species being improved and distributed have previously not received the research and development they deserve, given their commercial potential and role in climate change adaptation and mitigation,’ says Mr Basil Gua, a tree germplasm specialist with the FACT Project.
The trees include Canarium indicum (ngali nut), Terminalia catappa (beach almond) and Xanthostemon melanoxylon (a type of ebony). The FACT Project’s work on nut and multipurpose trees is being undertaken in close collaboration with the Solomon Islands Department of Forestry and the recently formed Nut Growers Association of Solomon Islands (NGASI).
Project team leader Dr Lex Thomson says, ‘It is timely to develop and conserve the country’s high-value tree species. The nut-tree germplasm conservation and improvement activity is a vital one for Solomon Islands. For some species, it builds on low-tech selection and improvement activities undertaken over hundreds of years by Solomon Islander farmers.
‘This work will not only benefit or serve local needs; chances are that other Pacific Island nations will have an interest in Solomon Islands’ priority export tree crops,’ he adds.
Established in February, the nursery also provides employment opportunities to some members of Honiara’s disabled community, who otherwise have limited opportunities to earn a living.
Suzie Dete, a disabled mother of four says, ‘The nursery has given me the opportunity to work as a casual and earn some money. We also have the opportunity to raise seedlings for sale and raise ourselves some money.’
The FACT Project works to increase exports of agriculture and forestry products from 14 Pacific members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP). When the project ends in December, the landowning community will continue running the nursery.
For more information, contact
, Trade Facilitation Assistant (Tree Germplasm) or email the
Caption: A nursery worker labels seedlings of important Terminalia catappa variety from the Temotu Province in the Solomon Islands.