Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Mission 5: Visit to project sites

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Material Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

7 – 24 August 2004

August 2004


During the first year of the two-year Linking farmers to plant protection networks project, workshops were completed on taro, sliperi kabis and watermelon at four villages: Gwaiau, Gwou’ulu, Malothawa and Takwa. Farmers selected crop/pest combinations and control measures. Monitoring of the farmers’ trials is the task of the KGA Community Field Officer employed under the project, assisted by DAL and PestNet. Another task, is to conduct an awareness campaign in the project area to inform farmers about the email station, what it is, how it works, and how they can make use of it to obtain information on agricultural matters, plant protection in particular.

PestNet moderators endeavour to visit the project quarterly, and this report describes the fifth mission, 8-24 August 2004. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the progress of experiments in the four villages and to develop the basis for an awareness campaign to encourage farmers elsewhere to use the email facility at Silolo.

This report has been compiled by PestNet (Grahame Jackson) and DAL Field Officer Malu’u (John Faleka).
The Community Field Officer
The contract of the Community Field Officer, Roselyn Luluomea was terminated on the 6 August 2004 due to under-performance. She was unable to absorb the training provided, and failed to carry out the monitoring of the pest control experiments and awareness campaign to ensure that the project had a fair chance of achieving its objectives. Performance had been noticeable worse during the last 6 months, and in an effort to improve the situation, a more experienced member of the KGA was transferred to Silolo for a month to work with her. This did nothing to change her behaviour. KGA is now in the process of finding a replacement. In the interim the coordinator of the youth livelihoods project in north Malaita, Mr Iro Ramoi, has taken over temporarily.
Testing the sprays
Farmers from Gwou’ulu and Malothawa report that the natural sprays selected by workshop participants for testing against infestations of Nisotra a beetle on sliperi kabis are not effective. Checks were made during the visit to see if this was so. Similarly, the sprays selected at the Gwaiau workshop were investigated to see if any were effective against the planthopper, Tarophagus, the main vector of alomae disease of taro.
Uka (Derris spp.)
According the local knowledge there are four types of Uka (Derris spp.) in the Silolo area. Two occur commonly near the beach, a third further inland, and a fourth in the forests at distance from the coast. Although all four are effective in killing fish, there are differences, which may be related to the concentration of rotenone in the plant tissues. Two species were tested in trials at Silolo and at Gwou’ulu. Methods of making the sprays from Uka can be found in the Gwaiau and Gwou’ulu workshop reports (Mission 3), and are summarised here.

Root or stem sections, approximately, 60 cm long, and 1.5-2 cm diameter, were crushed using a rock, covered in water and left to soak for 24 h. Afterwards, the extract was strained adjusted to 2 litres with water, and used.

Fuu (Barringtonia sp.)
Two tests were made: first with one and then three seeds grated into one litre water. The mixture was left overnight before it was strained, adjusted to 2 litres with water, and used.

Tobacco (Solanum tobacco)
Five leaves were macerated and placed in water, and left overnight. The mixture was then strained, adjusted to 2 litres with water, and used.

Chili (Capsicum frutescens)
50 red bird’s eye chillies were ground and left overnight in water. The mixture was then strained, adjusted to 2 litres with water, and used.

Furii (species unknown)
The bark of the tree was scraped until there was sufficient to fill a 1kg sugar bag; this was placed in 4 litres water with 50 bird’s eye chillies macerated to a pulp. The mixture was brought to the boil, cooled, strained and used.

Soap was added to all the sprays at a concentration of 10g/2 litres or thereabouts.

The sprays were applied separately to sliperi kabis bushes to thoroughly wet the top and bottom of leaves. Invariably, the beetles fell to the ground. They were then collected (12-20) using an aspirator, and placed, together with two or three shoots, in plastic containers (fruit fly traps) or plastic bags to determine their reaction to the sprays.
The results
The difficulty in the doing the tests at Silolo is apparent: many of the insects escaped from the cages, or plastic bags (Table 1). Whether this was in response to any repellent effect of the sprays is not known.

It seems unlikely that any of the sprays used have insecticidal properties, but there is good reason to retest them. Some deaths occurred where beetles and leaves were sprayed with Fuu, Uka and tobacco. These need to be retested.

In similar tests done at Gwaiau against Tarophagus on 16 August, the following results were recorded after insects and leaves were sprayed and incubated for 24 hours in plastic bags. The numbers given are those collected/alive: tobacco (1), 20/10; Uka, 22/12; Furii, 26/20; tobacco (2), 26/18. Many of the insects perished in the plastic bags, drowning in the sprays. The bags were unsuitable for these tests. These tests, too, need to be repeated.

Table 1. Effects of five sprays made from local products against Nisotra

No of Nisotra alive after 24 or 48 hours
Location/date Fuu Uka Chilli Tobacco Water Furii
Silolo River
Silolo 12
10/8/04 12 17 12
12/8/04 1* 17

11/8/04 12
13/8/04 12

12/8/04 15 12
14/8/04 9* (3 dead) 12

13/8/04 15 12
15/8/04 4*
(1 dead) 6*
(4 dead)

16/8/04 16
17/8/04 15
*escaped; †same mix as that used at Silolo
People’s experiences of the sprays
At Gwou’ulu, one farmer (Samson Nokia) has tried Uka twice. He said that the insects fall to the soil or fly short distances, but after three days they are back again in the same numbers. Some women at Gwou’ulu are so desparate to get some leaves that they are trying to kill the beetles by hand in the early morning, but it seems that this does not prevent damage as the plants are quickly recolonised. At Malothawa, one woman (Helen Konata) reported that she had tried Fuu, but none of the insects died, and another (Leoa) tried chilli with similar results – the insects fell down but were not killed.

Gwou’ulu has formed a woman’s group, which has joined the Plant Material Network to take advantage of the vegetable seeds offered by the organisation. The members are given in Annex 1 (which also includes those attending the meeting in Malothawa).
More research on sprays
There are several spays with potential that can be used against the pests of sliperi kabis and taro, and different ways of formulating them. The tests that have been done so far are inconclusive and need to be repeated. More tests should be done with Fuu, Uka, Furii, chilli and tobacco to determine whether or not they kill or repel Nisotra and Tarophagus. Better containers will be provided so that the tests can be done without the insects escaping.

In addition to repeating the tests done already, the following tests will use chilli and tobacco as soil and leaf sprays.

Chilli as a powder

It is worth testing chilli as a dust in the hope that if Nisotra is breeding on the roots of sliperi kabis, as suspected, the dust spread on the soil surrounding the plants will repel the juveniles, and also the adults.

Dry a large number of chillies, and then grind them to a powder, seeds and all. This needs to be done carefully, and hands should be well washed afterwards. Select a number of sliperi kabis bushes with beetles on them; count and then remove the beetles by shaking the bushes. Sprinkle the dust on the soil around the plants as wide as the widest leaves. Do this on, say, three sliperi kabis plants. Remove the beetles on 1 or 2 checks (but not apply the chilli powder on these bushes). At intervals of 3, 6 and 9 days, count the number of Nisotra on the leaves of treated and check plants (continue if there are differences between treated and check plants). Renew chilli if there is heavy rain.

Tobacco as a leaf and soil treatment

Make the tabacco spray as before, but increase the number of leaves to 6-8 large leaves macerated and left overnight, strain, and then add soap. Choose plants damaged by Nisotra, which have beetles on them. Count and shake to remove the beetles, and then spray the mixture on the soil in a circle around the stems as far as the widest leaves, and also on the leaves, top and bottom. Do this on, say, three sliperi kabis plants, and 1 or 2 checks. Make counts of beetles on the leaves at 3, 6 and 9 days (continue if there are differences between treated and check plants).
Collecting and killing Nisotra: is it possible?
Farmers at the Auki market say that they hand pick the beetles and kill them. This may appear to be a time-consuming method of control, but the beetles are easily collected. At most, they jump, fall to the ground or fly short distances. The question is: can collecting the beetles control infestations?

This method of control should be discussed with farmers at either Malothawa or Gwou’ulu to see if they are interested in trying it out. Some should hand pick and destroy the beetles; others should be given an aspirator to collect the insects daily (which are then destroyed). The farmers should record:

∑ the number of plants
∑ collection dates
∑ the number of insects caught each time

It is important that farmers collect all the beetles from all the sliperi kabis plants in any garden where they are testing the method.
Cultural control of Alomae at Gwaiau
Gwaiau has formed an Alomae Committee. There is great interest in the village to control alomae, and a good understanding of the biology of the main vector, Tarophagus. The Committee has a chairperson (James Ngeobuli), a vice-chair (Simon Toifei), Secretary (Clifton Naumea) and a treasurer (Peter Foakwailiu). In addition, there are four village supervisors to give advice on sprays and other ways of controlling alomae as well as distributing reports of the Committee (Peter Irolanga, Jackson Filiau, Jack Sunatee, Samuel Maeirofia). There are more than 12 members (Annex 2). The agenda for the meeting on the 16 August is provided (Annex 3)

Guidelines for the operation of the Committee were agreed at the meeting (Annex 4). It is important that members share their experiences, recording the number of alomae in their gardens at each session (Table 2).

Table 2. Recording of alomae at monthly Committee meetings

Date of meeting Name of farmer Month garden planted Garden number Number of alomae Number of plants in the garden? What did the farmer do?

Recording information in this way will indicate if the committee members are controlling the disease adequately or whether some members require assistance from others. If alomae gets out of hand in farmers’ gardens it may indicate nearby sources of inoculum need to be removed, or other factors affecting the incidence of disease need attention. Record keeping in this way will improve members’ ability to control the disease.

There is still too much reliance on sprays, or the hope that one or more will be found. If this continues, it could undermine the confidence of the farmers. The disease can be controlled adequately by a) regular monitoring for alomae, b) pulling out and burning diseased plants as soon as they are seen, and c) community action programmes. Even if sprays are effective, they will not control the disease on their own; they will only increase the effectiveness of the cultural control measures (ie pull out and burn).
Watermelon problem at Takwa
Problems at Nanadi
The visit to Takwa and the nearby village of Nanadi was very useful. It showed several aspects of watermelon cultivation where farmers need assistance, namely:

(a) Cultivation practices

∑ Farmers are planting on the same land, twice a year, perhaps for three years consecutively;
∑ Some seedlings are planted with leaves showing signs of fungal infection.

(b) Pest control practices

∑ Farmers do not know the difference between the pesticides and their use: they confuse Orthene with Bravo;
∑ They see one or two caterpillars and spray;
∑ They often neglect the symptoms of fungus, as they are not aware of the cause;
∑ Even when they do identify fungus infections correctly, control measures are applied too late, or not frequently enough;
∑ The amount of Bravo used is too low: the concentration per litre is about one third recommended by the manufacturer, and too little is sprayed per unit area;
∑ The sprayers are old and worn, producing large droplets, and consequently, poor coverage;
∑ Farmers do not know the capacity of their sprayers; for some, the markings are in Chinese, and assumptions of capacity are wrong;
∑ Knowledge of how to spray is poor.

Antonia Angisifone, for instance, planted two crops in 2003, another in March 2004, and the present one in June. There was no intervening crop. In her case, no fungus infections were seen in 2003 until harvest, and the same occurred in the first crop of 2004. Now the fungus is a major problem in the present 6-week old crop, with the first six leaves of most plants affected. She used Orthene last week, and Bravo this week, following the advice of Lawrence Aldo. In one 4-gallon (20 litre) drum, one 10 g pack of Orthene was added. For Bravo, 20 ml was added to the same drum. The recommended amount is 3 ml/litre, so Antonia is adding only a third required. At the farm of John Masinoru, there was great confusion between the two commonly used chemicals. The women tending the watermelon plantation did not know which chemical had been used and for what reason, and a brown liquid in a Bravo container was not what it should have been.

If Bravo is used at 3 ml/litre, and 450 litres water are applied per ha (commonly used high-volume rate), then the rate is 1.35 litres/ha.

If Copper oxychloride is used at a recommended rate of 5g/litre, then the rate is 2.25 kg/ha.

Commonly, farmers plant blocks of 400 watermelons, the amount of seeds in a packet. The area planted is 50 m x 25 m, 0.125 ha (one eighth ha). To cover this area, the amount of Bravo used should be 168 ml in 56 litres water per application. For copper oxychloride, the amount should be 258g per 56 litres per application. The amounts now being applied are not likely to control the disease. In reality, the farmers are wasting their money, as the amounts applied are insufficient to have any effect.
How to improve management of pests and diseases
Varietal testing

It has already been decided to test four new varieties from Known-You, Taiwan. SPC has ordered these, and seed of some of these varieties has already been sent to Solomon Islands. When all have arrived they will be distributed to each of the four villages as decided at the May workshop. What data to collect during the varietal trials is given in Annex 5.

Training in pesticide use

While it may be of interest to try new varieties, to see if any are less susceptible to the disease, the likelihood of success is probably low; thus, testing of new varieties should be combined with training in pesticide application. It was suggested to a member of the Takwa watermelon growers’ committee that a request for support should be sent to DAL/SPC.

Pesticide labelling and size of retail packets

It would help greatly, if the labels were printed in a larger font. Many of the farmers cannot read them. It would help, too, if they were written in Pidgin English.

Another issue is the cost of pesticides. Those available for retail in Honiara come in small size packets, eg 10 g Orthene, 200 ml Brave, 200g copper oxychloride etc. These are more suited to the needs of ‘gardens’, not the commercial operations of farmers. If retailers were assured of sales, they might import larger packs, reducing the unit costs of the products. The watermelon farmers’ committees should investigate the possibilities.

Change to an ‘organic’ approach

There is too much pesticide used, and mostly it is applied incorrectly. The two commonly used pesticides, Orthene and Bravo, should be phased out in favour of those that are permitted under organic registration: eg BT, Bacillus thuringiensis, and copper oxychloride. Tests will be needed to see if these control the caterpillar and fungal leaf blight problems. Samples need to be obtained and tested with farmers during the plantings of 2005.

Email, its use for agriculture
Meetings at Gwou’ulu, Malothawa and Gwaiau on the control of the pests and diseases of concern to the farmers provided an opportunity to explain the background to the project and use of email. Some people, albeit a few, had sent emails to relatives in Honiara and elsewhere and had an understanding of the facility and the way that messages are sent; most did not. It was explained that PestNet and other networks, eg SPC and FAO, could be contacted for any information on agriculture, but particularly for that on pest and diseases. The service is free to users.
Awareness programme in the project area
A programme of visits by the CFO (when recruited) and the Field Officer Malu’u is being planned (Annex 6). These visits are to introduce communities in the project area (Bita’ama to Takwa and as far in land as Gwaiau) to the existence of the email facility at Silolo, and how farmers may use it to obtain information on any aspect of agriculture.

Separate meetings will be held with men and women in the project area to ensure that both groups are provided information on email and its uses in their communities.
Project review
A review of the project, its aims, objectives and progress to date was held at DAL headquarters, Honiara, on 23 August with senior members of the Department present. Technical matters of the watermelon trials, the need for all parties to improve communication via email, and the evaluation of the project before its termination in June 2005, were discussed.
We thank the communities of Gwaiau, Gwou’ulu, Malothawa and Takwa for their hospitality in hosting the visits of Grahame Jackson (PestNet) and John Felaka (DAL). Thanks also go to Lucian Konata and family at Silolo for hospitality, kindness, advice and transport arrangements. The Chief Field Officer, Malaita, kindly helped with travel arrangements for one of us (GVHJ) to and from Silolo. We thank infoDev World Bank and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community for funding.
Annex 1

Gwou’ulu Woman’s Group

Luisa Ngalena
Mary Ologa
Koru Makau
Ellam Luke
John Mary Peter
Rachel Bale
Loti John Peter
Helen Kokoto
Palmer Kaelonga
Stephenson Ironi
Kodele Gweirii
Margaret Keumi
John Mary Fale
Ellam Willy
Samson Nokia (Group leader)

Malothawa Group

Helen Konata
Mounasi Danel
Annex 2
Alomae Committee Members

James Ngeobuli, Chairperson
Jack Sunatee
Peter Foakwailiu, Treasurer
Jackson Filiau
Samuel Maeirofia
Michael Momesi
Helen Irolonga
Ruben Iro
Stephen Luiota
Clifton Naumea, Secretary
Hudson Maakwali
Peter Irolonga
Simon Toifei, Vice-Chairperson

Annex 3

Agenda for the Alomae Committee Meeting 16 August 2004

Opening prayer

Report from the Chairman of the last meeting (James Ngeobuli)

Why are we doing this? (John Felaka)

Email, what is means for agriculture (John Felaka)

Guiedlines for the Alomae Committee (Grahame Jackson)

Sprays – how to make them and tests (All)

Any other business (All)

Annex 4
Guidelines of the Alomae Committee

Rule 1
Members will elect a Chairperson and Secretary who will be elected for one year unless re-elected.

Rule 2
The Chairperson will call meetings of the Committee on the last Sunday of each month or at other times if considered necessary.

Rule 3
The Secretary will make a record of the Committee in writing.

Rule 4
The Secretary will send reports of the Committee meetings to the Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Networks project via the email station at Silolo.

Rule 5
Members will attend meetings of the Alomae Committee unless prevented by other urgent business. If necessary, members can ask another person to represent them.

Rule 6
Members have a duty to help each other (and non-members) to control alomae in Gwaiau.

Rule 7
Members agree to share information on alomae in their gardens, and any other information they have about the disease.

Rule 8
Members will make every effort to get other farmers in Gwaiau to join the Alomae Committee.

Rule 9
The Committee will meet and make decisions only when there are at least 5 members present, including the Chairperson and/or Secretary

Rule 10
Decisions made by the Alomae Committee will be agreed by all members present before they come into effect.

Annex 5

Data collection: Takwa watermelon trial

Each farmer must agree to record the following as a pre-condition of taking seed for testing

∑ Own (number)
∑ Test (number)
Date of nursery
Date seedlings planted
∑ In the row
∑ Between the rows
Dates weeding
∑ First
∑ Second
∑ Third

∑ Date, Type and Quantity
∑ Date, Type and Quantity
∑ Date, Type and Quantity

Insect (Date)
Fungicide (Date)

Dates (Nos. fruit)
Average weight of fruit

Answer these questions:
1. When did you plant watermelon on the same site last time?
2. Was there a problem the last time they were grown on this site?
3. What was the problem?
4. What did you do about it?

Annex 6

Communities to be visited in the project area

From silo to Malu’u

Malu’u station

From Malu’u to Bita’ama


Those already visited:


Mission 4: Watermelon at Takwa

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

19 to 21 May 2004

May 2004


This is the report of the third workshop under the PestNet/KGA/DAL collaboration to test how rural email can assist farmers in remote areas of Solomon Islands. Following PRAs in the project area in October 2003, Takwa was selected by the Baetolau Farmers’ Network as the site of a watermelon workshop. Takwa and surrounding villages of Gwounasu, Nanadi and Hatodea are on the north coast of Malaita.

The aim of the workshop was for farmers to identify and prioritise watermelon pest problems and, together with KGA, DAL and PestNet, discuss options for control. Monitoring of the trials is to be carried out by the KGA/PestNet Community Field Officer and the DAL Field Officer stationed at Malu’u, with regular updates sent to PestNet moderators by email and to others in the network.

The workshop was held in a building belonging to the Chair of the BFN. Twenty-seven from 30 participants who applied to attend the workshop were present, and 11 additional participants also came. The SPC Extension Specialist Plant Protection Service, also attended.

The workshop
Opening remarks

After opening remarks of welcome by the Manager of the Kastom Gaden Association, and the Chair of the BFN, Mariano Lauga, Principle Agriculture Officer, DAL, provided a history of watermelon production in the area. It started in 1987 with a few families, and now there are more than 200. The aim was to increase family incomes, Up till 1993, workshops were held on agronomy, the use of pesticides, and, in collaboration with other Departments, book-keeping. At these workshops, both husbands and wives were encouraged to attend. More recently, newcomers are given the opportunity to work with more experienced growers for one or two cropping season to learn production techniques.

The technology is complex, and details were given on the use of mulch, manures, nursery composts, commercial fertilisers, pesticides, etc. There are two crops a year: the first is planted in February, the second in August. The latter is the main crop. The fields are about 50 m x 30 m.

A number of varieties have been tried over the years, with Empire 2 and Flower Mountain the most popular. Marketing is through outlets in Auki and Honiara and through a company called Didao, which previously sent ships to north Malaita to collect the crop. Now the ships come less often, due to problems associated with the ethnic tension.

Following the introduction to watermelon cultivation in the Takwa area, the PestNet Chair, Grahame Jackson, explained about email and the way that PestNet operates. This was followed by a discussion on the Network, which covered topics, such as costs (it is a free service), who in DAL are members of PestNet, how to send a message, what kind of advise will be received, and why the email station is at Silolo (and not at Takwa!), and the way that DAL/KGA representatives at Silolo and Malu’u can assist.

The farmers were asked to introduce themselves and to give their expectations of the workshop. A list of participants is given in Annex 1, and workshop agenda in Annex 2.
Defining the pest problems

Working in groups, the participants noted the problems that exist on watermelon in the area, providing as much detail as they knew on damage, cause and seasonality. Samples were collected from gardens to illustrate the pests and diseases. The problems were then ranked in order of importance.

The main problems identified were tiny ‘butterflies’ (actually moths), green caterpillars (probably larvae of the moths ), red ants, a yellow bug (Aulacophora pumpkin beetle) and fungus attacking vines and leaves. There was general agreement about the pests: that they were generally worse in the wet season, the fungus comes from the ground and rotten sticks, mulching increased fungal problems, and the red ants caused a leaf curl (actually caused by aphids). Control measures were handpicking and pesticides. Overall, the women were less knowledgeable about the pests and diseases of watermelon than the men.

Participants were then asked to rank the problems on a scale of 1 (least serious) to 5 (most serious).

Problems Grp 1 Grp 2 Grp 3 Grp 4 Total Rank
Fungus leaf spot 4 4 4.2 5 17.2 1
Tiny butterflies 3 5 2.1 5 17.1 2
Fungus vine 2.2 5 3.3 5 15.3 3
Small fruits and roots 5 3 3.1 4 15.1 4
Red ants 2 5 2.6 5 14.6 5
Large fruit rots 3 5 2.0 4 14.0 6
Green caterpillar 1 5 2.9 4 12.9 7
Yellow beetle 4 3 1.4 4 12.4 8
Grasshopper 2 4 1.5 3 10.5 9

The farmers produced seasonal calendars, and these showed a large variation between the groups in the number of sprays applied to the crops. Insecticide and fungicide was applied either once a week (one group) or once every two weeks (two groups) on a routine basis, except for one group, which said they applied the chemicals according to need.

The most frequently used insecticide is Orthene (acephate), although carbaryl is also used “in the event that Orthene fails to control a pest”. Both these chemicals are used shortly after transplanting, presumably against the pumpkin beetles, and then weekly, fortnightly or as required. A majority of farmers also used ICON, a synthetic pyrethroid-containing product for malaria control. Bravo (chlorothalonil) is the fungicide mostly commonly used, although copper oxychloride is known. Fungicides are applied in the nursery as well as in the field.
Control strategies

Insect and disease control

Wilco Liebregts talked to the farmers about the insect pests that they had mentioned in the group sessions and seen in the field during a practical session. The farmers were introduced to biological control concepts, and many examples were provided from the samples collected. It is likely that the insecticides, which are used frequently, are killing natural enemies as well as the pests . They are also killing the bees. Alternative products are needed, and BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) would be a suitable choice, if available. The insects collected in the area are given in Annex 3.

Grahame Jackson talked about the fungal disease that is destroying the leaves of watermelons. It was not certain if it was anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum orbiculare, or gummy stem blight, caused by Didymella bryonae . However, for the sake of the discussion, the disease was called ‘anthracnose’ and ways of controlling it using cultural, varietal and chemical methods were outlined.

The importance of cultural control was emphasised, with due regard to seedling infections, crop rotation, drainage, site selection in relation to prevailing winds, weeds, the removal of trash after harvest.

Although there are watermelon varieties with resistance to strains of anthracnose, none have yet been developed that are resistant to gummy stem blight. However, this should not deter testing some of the varieties that are popular in other Pacific Island countries. Seeds will be obtained, probably from Fiji in the first instance.

It was suggested that chemical control should begin as soon as infected plants are seen, especially in times of wet weather. Even if no disease is seen, an application of fungicide three weeks after planting would seem appropriate. There was also a need to look at the spraying equipment of each farmer, the rate of the chemicals used as well as the method of application. This would be done at the next visit, possible in the second week of August.

Farmer trials

Farmers were keen to experiment, to consider cultural control measures, new varieties and improved pesticide application. It was decided to test four new varieties. Different groups would grow all the varieties in each of the four villages (Gwounasu, Hatodea, Nanadi and Takwa), with each group testing one variety. It was agreed that each farmer would grow a minimum of 20 plants along side the standard variety. Control measures against the fungus would be applied to the standard varieties and those under test, including the application of fungicide. Meetings would be held before planting to discuss the need for crop rotation (some farmers are growing watermelon on the same land each year), site selection, drainage, etc, and there would be training on pesticide application. A trial using BT is also a possibility, depending on the availability of the product in Honiara.

Monitoring by DAL/KGA/PestNet

The DAL/KGA and PestNet agreed the following monitoring plan after the workshop.

Action Who is responsible? When?
Send samples for identification:
J Saelea/GJ
M Ho’ota
Permit required if sent to NZ

∑ Discuss with Honiara suppliers
∑ Check those grown by PICs and elsewhere
∑ Order
∑ Permit to enter Solomon Is
Mariano Lauga

Lily Wame

When disease ID made
Message from SH
Recruit Helen Tsatsia to the project Lily to talk to JS/JH ASAP
Meeting at Takwa Farmers + KGA/DAL/PestNet When the seed arrives. The meeting will share info on pest and disease control, and pesticide application
Guidelines for trial Steve/GJ – All to agree ASAP
Outline proposal for IPM of major arthropod pests Wilco Liebregt/M Ho’ota Early May

Closing remarks

Mariano Lauga thanked the participants for their input. It was important that the resource people obtained as much information as possible on the cultivation techniques as well as the pests and diseases of the area. Their patience was appreciated. We now have a sound platform from which to go forward. There is a much better understanding of the pests and diseases, their relative importance and potential methods of control.

The organisers of the workshop, KGA/PestNet and DAL, are grateful to Takwa community and surrounding villages for their hospitality and active participation during the two days of the workshop. We also would like to thank Lawrence Aldo, Chair of the BFN for hosting the workshops and taking care of the resource persons. The infoDev World Bank and the South Pacific Commission are thanked for financial support.

Grahame Jackson, PestNet
Sydney, 31 May 2004
Annex 1
Workshop participants

Alick Sade
Betty Koudi
Brhuno Qga
Chris Martin
Daisy Fakaia
Daniel Aneke
Edison Ratu
Elson Ragafi
Erestus Ige
Ethel Samani
Everlyn Robert
Felix Laukasi
Felix Wao Usuli
Frank Tabai
Fred Daoga
George Kaeni
Gladys Dora Aeti
Jack Wao
Jackson Sipi
Jerriel Aeta
Koina Oiga
Lawrence Aldo
Lawrence Dime
Lucy Oligao
Macheal Bore
Mark Elson Kii
Matilda Sade
Meli Rofeta
Peter Robu
Philip Danita
Philip Lone
Ratu John
Redly Wiki
Reeves Tagini
Relmay Tabai
Rex Maenu

Robert Dede
Samo Taebo
Samson sade
Selister Kabi
Sisia Kabi
Valex Lega
Wao Kabolo
Watson Samo

Resource persons

Mariano Lauga
Lily Warme
Michael Ho’ota

Roselyn Kabu
Roselyn Lulumae

Grahame Jackson
Wilco Liebregts

Stephen Hazelman

Annex 2
Workshop timetable

Time Monday Tuesday
8.30 – 10.00

Official Opening (Community Leader)

Introductions and expectations (on small cards)

History of Watermelon cultivation in the Takwa area

About email and PestNet In the field: looking at the insects and diseases

10.00 - 10.20 Break Break
10.30 Small groups:
watermelon pest and disease stories
∑ what is the problem?
∑ What does it do?
∑ Where does it come from?
∑ What season?
∑ What causes it?
∑ What do you do about it? Watermelon calendar

What pesticides are used against what pest?

What do we know about the insects pests

What do we know about the diseases?
1.30 Collect samples of pest and disease from watermelon gardens (same small groups) Discussion on the mot promising trials
2.30 Small Group Presentation
3.00 - 3.20 Break Break
3.30 Continue group presentations Concluding session

4.00 Ranking of problems – voting by group members

Annex 3

Pests collected from during surveys in North Malaita

Date Location Index No. No. vials Description
21 May 2004 Takwa. N. Malaita SI-M-T-101 2 Parasitoids ex. ‘green caterpillar’ on watermelon
20 May 2004 SI-M-T-102 1 Fly (parasitoid) ex. Aulacophora (adult) on watermelon [1 maggot emerged 21 May 2004]
21 May 2004 SI-M-T-103 2 ‘Red ant’ (Wasmannia auropunctata? On watermelon tending aphids (Aphis gossypii?)
22 May 2004 Malu’u, N. Malaita SI-M-Malu-101 2 Black aphid on long bean
22 May 2004 SI-M-Malu-102 1 Bug feeding on long bean
22 May 2004 SI-M-Malu-103 2 Ladybird beetle feeding on long and wing bean
21 May 2004 Takwa, N. Malaita SI-M-T-104 1 Bug feeding on watermelon

Mission 4: Visit to Gwaiau

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

23 to 26 May 2004

May 2004


This is the first visit by PestNet since the taro workshop in January 2004. The aim of the visit was to monitor how farmers are implementing the actions agreed. The visit was made in the company of the SPC PPS Extension Officer, Stephen Hazelman. The CFO was unable to visit due to illness in the family.

Gwaiau is a relatively remote highland village some 5 hours walk from the coast. Some people take longer to walk the steep muddy track, others a shorter time. There is a school.


Farmers at the workshop agreed to test four methods of controlling alomae, the lethal virus disease of taro; these were:

∑ Pull out and burn affected plants, and plant a strong smelling tree (a traditional control measure);
∑ Pull out and burn affected plants, and spray surrounding plants with Uka (Derris sp.);
∑ Pull out and burn affected plants, and spray surrounding plants with Furi (an unidentified tree extract);
∑ Pull out and burn affected plants, and spray surrounding plants with tobacco extract.

A meeting was held on arrival with the community, but as they had not been told of the visit beforehand only a few farmers attended. The gardens of a majority of these were visited during the next 2 days.


Meetings with farmers

The results of the visit can be summarised as follows:

1) The farmers are improving the control of alomae, but are not experimenting in the sense of comparing treated and non-treated gardens.
2) Most farmers are pulling out affected plants and burning them; some are plating a strong smelling tree in place of the affected plant, some are spraying the surrounding plants with Uka (Derris sp.), Furi (unknown) or tobacco.
3) Among the farmers met, there seems to be a better understanding how the disease spreads (insects and planting material).
4) There is a growing understanding that control measures should include the entire community; how this might be done was discussed.

There are two types of taro gardens in the village. Those at distance from the village (30-60 minutes), which are large and important sources of food, and smaller ones within the village area, owned by young people or those two busy to cultivate larger gardens or who are young. All those with large gardens are making a serious attempt to control the disease, and, with one exception, are pulling out affected plants as soon as they are seen. The exception is a young farmer who planted a garden, which become infected and the disease spread so fast that he did not know what to do. The smaller gardens have a lot of alomae, and are sources of inoculum for the larges ones. Details of each of the gardens visited are given in the table below (Table 1).

Discussions at a concluding meeting, mostly attended by farmers whose gardens had been visited, centred on the need to tackle alomae collectively. There was no point in one farmer trying to control the disease whilst his or her neighbour did not. The idea of an alomae committee was raised, perhaps with representatives from the several churches. Such a committee might provide guidelines to the community on how the disease should be controlled and encourage all members of the village to participate. It was left for people at the meeting to discuss the matter with their respective churches: James (SSEC); Jack/Peter (Jehovah’s Witness); Frederick (Baptist); and Feni (SDA). Michael said he would talk to the Feni, the chief of the village when he returns from Honiara at the end of June.

There is a need to have an alomae leaflet: a cartoon strip with words in pidgin.

Meetings with schoolchildren

Steve Hazelman met with the senior children and teachers to introduce the concept of email. The children will write a small project on collecting and evaluating taro; they will then take the document to Silolo and see it transmitted to SPC for consideration. More details on this can be obtained from Steve’s report.


1. There is a need for the CFO and the DAL field officer to visit Gwaiau more often, once every 6 weeks would be ideal. Visits must be made to gardens; it is not sufficient just to talk to farmers in the village, either individually or in groups. When in the gardens conversations on the control of taro diseases should be noted. The discussions should farmers said he or she would do, what they have done and the outcome of the discussion between the CFO or extension officer.

2. Farmers are starting to understand how alomae can be controlled and they are carrying out control measures, in contrast to the view given in the CFO’s reports. Farmers need to be encouraged and community engagement in controlling the diseases needs to be emphasised.

3. The next visit by the CFO/Extension Officer should be in the June. At that time the following should be done:

∑ Visit gardens of other farmers to discuss what they said they would do compared to what they have done.
∑ Assist farmers form an alomae group to take a community approach to management of the disease.
∑ Write a report on the visit.

4. The school children’s project has considerable potential for other centres as a means of introducing email to people who have no previous experience of its operation.

5. If the village continues to show that they can manage alomae, the project should plan to extend the concepts to other localities in the highlands, using the farmers of Gwaiau as resource persons.


We would like to thank the Gwaiau community for their support and infoDev World Bank for funding.

Grahame Jackson
Sydney, 30 May 2004

Table 1. Farmers visited, what was seen and what was recommended

Farmer What the farmers said he/she would do What the farmer has done What I suggested the farmer should do
Jack Sunate’e Furi spray After the workshop he found 3 alomae plants in his garden, so he pulled them out carefully (as shown at the workshop) and sprayed the adjacent ones with Furi and chilli mixture He added a vine called Kwa’arerebulu to the mixture. Some plants that he is not sure about he has pulled out and left at the side of the garden to see if they recover. Jack seems to understand the association of the planthopper and the disease, and how to control the disease. The advice was to continue as he is doing.
Peter Irolanga Uka spray Peter has used Uka three times. He pulls the alomae-affected plants from the ground, burns them, and sprays the plants around that appear healthy. He says it works. There were a few plants with alomae in the garden at the time of the visit, and Peter said that he would pull them out. Peter seems confident that he can take care of alomae and there is probably little more advice to give him unless he has problems, which is unlikely. He should be encouraged to remove the plants with alomae as he sees them, rather than leaving them until another time.
Michael Momesi Uka spray After the workshop, he found seven alomae affected plants in his garden and removed them. His preferred technique is to place a rice bag over the plant and pull it out by holding the base. He then sprayed adjacent plants with Uka. There were diseased plants at the time of the visit. Michael is an elderly man with considerable expertise in taro cultivation. Now that he understands the way that alomae spreads, it is unlikely that he will need further assistance. He suggested at the meeting that farmers should collaborate to control the disease and is a supporter of the
James Ngeobulu Tobacco spray with chilli He found two alomae plants after the workshop and pulled these out. A week later he found five more. These too were pulled out and in their place he planting the strong smelling tree (Aimamokwa). There are several alomae plants in his garden in a small patch. He has to pull out the present affected plants and visit the garden more often to check if others are diseased.
John Maggii Tobacco spray John has not used the tobacco spray. Alomae has got out of control in his garden and a majority of the plants are diseased. It is likely he bought the disease to the garden in planting material from the last crop. John was told to carefully remove the plants and burn them, even though he has abandoned the garden. He was told to nursery the remaining healthy plants, checking to see if they have alomae before taking them to a new garden for plating.
Rino Pull out and burn Rino has about six plants with alomae in a small garden that is 1-2-month’s old. Rino was not available.
Eunice Uka spray There is a small patch of alomae containing about 20 p[lants in her garden. The plants are 2-3-month’s old. Eunice was not available.

Farmer What the farmers said he/she would do What the farmer has done What I suggested the farmer should do
Samuel Maeta Tobacco spray He bought taro from a garden that had alomae. He said that sprays of Furi and chilli did not check the disease. In the new garden he has pulled ut the plants and used the strong-smelling Aimamokwa. He understands how the disease spreads in planthoppers as well as planting material. He believes he cont control the disease by roguing and is doing that regularly.
Feni Pull out and burn Feni has been I Honiara since the workshop and was not there to interview. He has six alomae plants in his small garden in the village. There are a large number of planthoppers on the taro, some with long wings. His wife and sons were told to remove the diseased plants.

Mission 4: Beans, sweet potato & Abelmoschus at Malothawa

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

KGA/DAL/PestNet Workshop on Sweet Potato, Beans and Sliperi Kabis
at Malathawa

24-25 May 2004

Honiara & Fiji
July 2004

This is the report of the fourth workshop under the PestNet/KGA/DAL collaboration to test how rural email can assist farmers in remote areas of Solomon Islands. Following PRAs in the project area in October 2003, Malathawa was selected by the Baetolau Farmers Network as the site of a sweet potato workshop. Malathawa is near the Project email station at Silolo, on the north coast of Malaita.

In an earlier workshop in November 2003, sweet potato was selected since it is an important crop in the region, and yields were reportedly low. Later, however, it was thought that the low yields were more likely caused by soil fertility and not by pests and diseases as was initially believed. Therefore, KGA, DAL and PestNet thought it might be more useful to look at sweet potato pests at the workshop, but at the same time include other crops. People from the village have been reporting pest problems on sliperi kabis (Abelmoschus manihot) and beans (Vigna unguinculata sesquipedalis), both of which are heavily attacked by insect pests to the extent that cultivation is difficult and in decline.

The aim of the workshop was for farmers to identify and prioritise sweet potato, bean and sliperi kabis pest problems and, together with KGA, DAL and PestNet, discuss options for control. Monitoring of the trials will be carried out by the KGA/PestNet Community Field Officer and the DAL Field Officer stationed at Malu’u, with regular updates sent to PestNet moderators by email and to others in the network.

The workshop was attended by 14 farmers, six of whom were women. Participants came from Malathawa and villages nearby. A list of participants is given in Annex 1 and the Workshop timetable in Annex 2.
Workshop activities
Opening remarks

The Workshop began with prayers by the DAL Field Officer, Malu’u, John Faleka. Chief Bollen officially welcomed both the participants and the resource persons to his village for the Workshop. Participants then introduced themselves followed by the resource persons. Ms Lilly Wame, DAL, Senior Field Officer, spoke about the aims of the Workshop and the Linking farmer project.

The workshop agenda is presented in Annex 2.
Defining the pest problems

The participants considered the crops with the most pest problems in their villages, and choose sweet potato, sliperi kabis and beans. Afterwards, they formed three groups to look at the problems in more detail.

Group 1 sweet potato, thought that pest problems were not significant. Mostly, they were associated with crop husbandry practices, such as field sanitation, right harvesting times, and planting seasons. It was clear that sweet potato grows well, but the yields are relatively low and this was thought due to low soil fertility. The sweet potato varieties grown are 1) Dii, (2) Suca, 3) Bebeakwe, 4) Kaidai, 5) Koukou, (6) Ruavatu, 7) Kaotave, 8) Sweet Momole, and 9) Daonem Light. Suca and Bebeakwe were introduced in the last 10 years from other provinces.

Group 2 beans (yard long and wing beans), are grown by many of the participants as a cash crop. Farmers harvest early to avoid pest attack, but find it difficult to obtain sufficient seed for planting. The group found that the major pest is the brown stink bug which makes holes in the fruits. A white caterpillar with a black head also attacks the beans. Staked beans were more affected than those grown unstaked. However, fruits of the latter do not grow straight, and because of this their market value is reduced.

Group 3 sliperi kabis, is the main vegetable in the area and throughout the country. However, farmers at Malathawa and nearby villages have stopped growing the cabbage because of severe infestation of pests. The group reported the following:

∑ A black beetle (Nisotra sp) eats the leaves,
∑ A caterpillar (wawa) eats the young shoots and folds the leaves,
∑ Two beetles (green and black) eat the leaves,
∑ Snails eat the roots,
∑ A small spider lays egg on the leaves,
∑ A slug (waiwainoa) crawls on the cabbage and leaves slime, and
∑ A scale insects heavily infest the stems.

A beetle (Nisotra sp.) and a caterpillar of a shoot borer (Earias vittella) were the main pests identified by the farmers. Group 1 thought Earias the main problem; Group 3, Nisotra; and Group 2 identified both as equally important (see Table). (Similar conclusions were made at the Guou’ulu workshop in January 2004).

Questions Group 1 Group 2 Group 3
When does the problem occur? Especially in the dry season During wet season As soon as the shoots emerge
What do you do about it? No control No control No control
What is the cause? A caterpillar Beetle/caterpillar Beetles
Where do the pests come from? Soil or elsewhere From other vegetables From other islands

Results from samples collected from gardens

The three groups collected pests from nearby gardens and discussed the various insects found in a plenary session. They confirmed the opinions from the earlier session when the groups identified the main pests of the three crops of interest.

Sliperi kabis: The green weevils come in small numbers eating the underside of the leaves. However, the black beetle (Nisotra) comes in large numbers and is the major insect pest of sliperi kabis. Scale insects were found, which suck the sap from the stems, and can cause problems.

Sweet Potato: The sweet potato horn worm (Agrius convolvuli), a tortoise beetle, and the sweet potato weevil were the most important pests.
Yard-long beans: No samples of insect pests were found; more an indication of the decline in cultivation of this crop, than a lack of pests .
Farmers quotations on problems affecting slippery cabbage

“Even due to this pest problem, we try our best to grow this crop (sliperi kabis) by shifting cultivation and hand picking of insects just to get some edible leaves as this is our main vegetable”
Jeniffer Susurii of Malothawa Village.

“As soon as the cabbage is grown and starts to produce leaves the cabbage is attacked. This makes it only possible to harvest the cabbage once, and then it is completely damaged by the pests. We used to market our produce at the Auki market, but now we can’t even at the Silolo market.”
Magaret Irota of Silolo Village.

“I used to plant the slippery cabbage, but now I do not have it due to the pest problem. I now eat Ute or taro leave as vegetables”.
Daniel Lio of Makokoa village.

“Some farmers plant the cabbage on clover covered soil and the cabbage seem to grow healthy; seems to grow longer than the others planted the normal way.”
Henry Konairara of Loina village.
Control strategies

Insect and disease control

Wilco Liebregts talked to the farmers about the insect pests mentioned in the group sessions and collected from the gardens during practicals. The pests were identified, life cycles explained and economic aspects of infestations discussed. Advice was given on management strategies, with an emphasis on cultural (clean planting material, site selection - away from previous crops, and crop rotation) and biological control. Farmers were introduced to biological control concepts, and examples were provided from the samples collected.

Sweet potato. Insect and disease problems were not thought to be sufficiently significant to cause any yield losses. However, the importance of cultural control methods was emphasised, in particular, crop rotation and site selection. These issues also relate to soil fertility.

Sliperi kabis. The Chrysomelid beetle (Nisotra basselae), the cause of severe damage to the leaves, was the most important pest. A leaf-rolling caterpillar was also found to be damaging, and samples were collected for photography, incubation and identification. The biology of the pest and the potential of biological control were described, and how it might be carried out.

Yard-long beans. They were heavily attacked by several species of sap-sucking bugs (Hemiptera), to the extent that many farmers had stopped growing them. Farmers were shown how to make paper bags (sleeves), which they can hang around the young beans, to prevent attack. The bags can be re-used several times. A problem in doing this, and one pointed out by the farmers, was the shortage of any paper to make the bags. DAL and KGA were asked to supply the farmers with old newspapers.

Farmer trials

Farmers were keen to experiment, to consider the proposed control measures, particularly on crops of sliperi kabis and beans. They were very enthusiastic about the trials. Five control measures were proposed, four of the control methods used locally made pesticides, and, the fifth, paper bags to protect bean pods from attack by sucking insects.

The trials with the pesticides will be done on both sliperi kabis and beans, while the bagging trial is specifically for beans. The methods for making the sprays are given in Annex 2. The bags, made from newspaper (or any other type of paper) are to be fixed around the beans when they are still young.

The participants were advised to collect data on 1) date of planting, 2) insect damage, and 3) presence of insects at intervals after spraying. The proposed date for review of the trials was in September. The groups doing the trials are given in Annex 4.

Closing remarks

Wilco Liebregts reiterated the importance of making use of the Pestnet facilities at Silolo. Henry Konairara of Loina Village, highlighted the importance of participation of all sectors of the community in such workshops. He said that the level of understanding and literacy level within the community are not the same. Therefore, it is best for all to work together to share information for the sake of each other. He further thanked the Kastom Garden association, DAL and PestNet collaboration for bringing this project to this region as it is usually left out from development assistance.


We extend are thanks to Chief Bollen and the Malothawa community for their hospitality in hosting the two-day Workshop. We also want to thank the participants from surrounding villages for attending; this made the Workshop a greater success. Thanks also go to Lician Konata for his hospitality and kindness in accommodating the resource team during the Workshop.

Michael Ho’ota
DAL Honiara
July 2004
Annex 1
Workshop Participants

Farmers Village

Dolena Ramoi Kefuboboo
Falu John Silolo
Richard Ringamae Magwabaru
Anna Maeramo Abunio
Iro Wasi Kafoasila
Alfred Nolan Malathawa
Solo Gioro
Betty John Lafulanga
Enofiri Magwabaru
Alata Alick Magwabaru
Hellen Konata Silolo
Lorata Dadafu
Susurii Seda Malathawa
Alfred Suiedi Lafulanga
Takata Mauriasi Kafoniwane
Elama Kasi Tataefata
Jason Otanamae Loina
Daniel Lio Makokoa
Henry Kanairara Loina

Resource persons

Wilco Liebregts PestNet
Roselyn Kabu KGA
Roselyn Lulumae KGA
Lilly Wame DAL
John Faleka DAL
Michael Ho’ota DAL

Annex 2
Workshop timetable

Time Monday Tuesday
8:30 – 10:00 Word of Prayer

Introductions of Participants

Introduction of Resource Persons

Word of welcome by Chief Bollen of Malothawa

Introduction of workshop and functions of the Linking farmers project by Lilly Wame. Identification of samples of pest and diseases collected by farmers from their fields.
10.00 – 10.20 Break Break
10.30 Small groups:
Sweet potato, Slippery Cabbage, bean
pest and disease stories:

∑ What is the problem?
∑ What does it do?
∑ Where does it come from?
∑ What season?
∑ What causes it?
∑ What do you do about it? Group discussion on pest identified.

Group presentations
12.00 Lunch Lunch
1:30 Small group presentations Discussion on control measures.
2:00 Ranking of problems voting by group members:
∑ When the problems occur?
∑ What do they do with the problem?
∑ What cause it?
∑ Where they come from? Identification of treatments and trials.

3:00 Small Group Presentations Closing

Annex 3

Methods of making botanical sprays

Tobacco & Chilli

∑ 10 large leaves (green tobacco)
∑ 5 Chillies
∑ Crush leaves and chillies
∑ Add 5 litres of water
∑ Strain and apply

* optional boil in water


∑ 3-4 Fu’u fruits.
∑ Scrape the fruits
∑ Mix with water, plus soap. (2litres/5 litres)
∑ Strain and apply

Uka spray (Derris)

∑ 3 roots
∑ Grind - squeeze & strain
∑ Scrape Kwato tree bark
∑ 1 kg plastic sugar filled with scraped Kwato.
∑ 5 heads O’oto
∑ Mix all in a bucket.
∑ Cover with water overnight
∑ Add up to 5 litres
∑ Strain and apply


∑ Scrape of outer bark
∑ Scrape inside bark
∑ Fill 1 kg plastic sugar of scraped bark
∑ Add 5 ground chillies
∑ Add 20 litres of water
∑ Strain and apply

Annex 4

Farmer Trial groups


Henry Kanaira
Daniel Lio
Alick Alata
Augina Bumata
Jenny Lorata
Elama Kasi

Paper Method

Augina Bumata
H. Kanaia
J. Lorata

Fu’u spray

H. Kanaia

Uka spray

D. Lio
Augina Bumata
Jenny Lorata
Elama Kasi

Furi spray

Alick Alata

The rest of the participants will carry out trials on the sliperi kabis

Mission 3: Abelmoschus at Gwou'ulu

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

KGA/DAL/PestNet Workshop on
Sliperi Kabis at Gwou’ulu

Mission Report 3
26 to 28 January 2004

February 2004

This is the second of two workshops held in the project area in January 2004, and followed a few days after one on taro at Gwaiau in the highlands. Gwou’ulu, the site for the second workshop on slippery cabbage or sliperi kabis, as it is known in the local Pidgin English. Its scientific name is Abelmoschus manihot. It was chosen by the Baetolau Farmers’ Network following PRAs in October 2003. The village is on the north coast of Malaita about half an hour (by canoe) from Silolo, the site of the email station established by KGA/PestNet under the infoDev Project.

The aim of the workshop was to share information on sliperi kabis among farmers, extension staff and scientists, to identify and prioritise the pest problems and by working together find options for control. Experiments will be done by growers, and monitored with the help of the KGA/PestNet Community Field Officer, who will provide PestNet moderators with regular email updates, and these will be sent to others in the network.

The workshop was held in a classroom of Gwou’ulu School, and attended by 31 participants, 26 of whom were women. A list of participants is given in Annex 1.
The workshop
Opening remarks

After an opening prayer by Father Willie, Chief Alik Inia gave the opening address. He welcomed participants and said that the community was pleased to host this workshop; it was the first time that one had been held in the village, and he was sure that it would be of great help to the community. He also hoped that the resource people would feel at home in the village. Although many of the participants could not read or write, nevertheless, there was keen interest to learn and to participate in the activities of the workshop, even though some might at first be hesitant to contribute.

The background to the workshop was explained, and why it was being held at Guou’ulu. KGA started working on pest problems in the area in 1998, and found that there were many differences between farmers. This led to the idea of sharing experiences so that all farmers might benefit. The KGA/PestNet project is a way of doing this and at the same time gaining technical expertise from many countries via the network.

The farmers were asked to introduce themselves. They also commented on sliperi kabis as a food. It was considered by the majority as the number one ‘greens’, mainly because of its favoured taste – it was sweet and cooked quickly. Sliperi kabis with coconut milk was a favourite with many participants. There was an opinion that the cabbage was easy to grow (except for the pest problems), and looked appealing when cooked.

The workshop agenda is presented in Annex 2. The format was similar to that on taro at Gwaiau the previous week.
Defining the pest problems

The participants worked in four groups to consider the problems of growing sliperi kabis in the village. They then went to the gardens to collect samples to illustrate those pests of concern. Leaders of the groups then presented the results of the discussions, which also included control measures in current use.

In order to get an idea of the main problems in the gardens, the resource persons also made visits to nearby gardens.

For the most part, the main problems on leaves as well as stems were clearly identified by particiants. Small holes in the leaves were made by Nisotra beetles (bubulu); larger ones by at least two species of grasshopper (siko). Hornworms, warialo, (Hippotion celerio) were an occasional problem, as were unidentified fulgaroids (bebe kwaoa). The stem borer, kabis wa wa, (Earias vittella), was mentioned as a problem, but was not common in the gardens at the time of the visit. Common encrustations on the stems by scale insects were noted, especially on older growth or in gardens where soils were poor (most gardens were in scrubby secondary bush where coral outcrops were common).

Some pests, for example the scale insect, were also recognised as a problem on cassava and papaya. The problems identified in order of importance were as follows:

Ranking Problem (local name) Cause What does it do?
1 Bubulu (28) Nisotra sp. Makes a lot of holes in the leaves
2 Siko (18) Grasshoppers Large holes in leaves
3 Kabis wa wa (16) Earias vittella Bores the stem and kills the shoot
4 Bebe kwaoa (8) Fulgaroid plant hopper Not sure
5 White spot (7) Scale insects Colonises the stems I large numbers
6 Warialo (6) Hippotion celerio (hornworm) Eats the leaves
7 Crab (2) Crab Uproots young plants
The numbers in brackets are the votes recorded for each problem: each participant was allowed three votes.
Present control strategies

Overall, the participants were unclear where the problems originated, the life cycles of the pests or how to control them. Most groups thought the insects came from trees in the gardens after they were burnt as part of the clearing process. There was a general impression that problems were worse in the dry season than the wet, although this did not apply to Nisotra, which was a problem throughout the year. Its impact was worse, however, where sliperi kabis was planted in poor soils as new leaves were slow to develop and consequently the impact from insects feeding was greater.

Few control measures were practiced: pull up, throw away or burn the plant or cut off infested parts, seemed to be the most popular. While this approach was a useful remedy against Earias stem borer, it made little difference to Nisotra or grasshoppers. The suggestion by a male participant that Nisotra was less when sliperi kabis was planted under shade was firmly contradicted by several women. However, all agreed that daily handpicking larger insects, such as grasshoppers, kept them in check.
Botanical sprays

There was overwhelming interest in carrying out experiments to control pests of sliperi kabis, especially for control of Nisotra.. As cultural control measures did not offer a solution, and all the varieties seemed to have similar susceptibility to the pest, attention turned to the use of sprays. Conventional insecticides were not appropriate under the circumstances: people had little money to spend on them, and if they had, they were not available in the isolated communities of north Malaita.

It was, therefore, decided to test botanical sprays made from local materials. Those with potential against the insects identified by the participants were listed, and how to make them demonstrated. They were:

Uka (Derris sp.)
Fu’u (Barringtonia sp.)
Ash (as a fine powder)

The recipes are given in Annex 3.

In addition to showing participants how to make the sprays, methods of application were explained as well as safety precautions. The participants were not aware that botanical sprays may contain substances that are injurious to human beings or the environment. Care must be exercised when they are made, applied, stored or disposed of, just as if they were conventional pesticides.

Afterwards, groups elected to make two sprays. The following day, they visited a nearby garden, where they were shown how to make counts of insects and to apply the sprays safely. Numbers of bubulu were counted on the top of the leaves only, whereas total counts of siko and kabis wa wa were made. After counting, leaves were sprayed to run off on both the top and underneath surfaces.

Seaweed required to be fermented for several days before application; accordingly, the group responsible will apply it at a later date.
The results of the insect counts are given in Annex 4.

Monitoring the trials

Farmers’ observations

The farmers decided that they would note the number of insects before and after spraying and the type of spray used. However, there were differences of opinion on when the observations would be made: some farmers said daily, others less often, perhaps once a week.

Monitoring by KGS/PestNet

Roselyn Lulumae, Community Field Officer and John Felaka, Extension Officer, will visit Gwou’ulu once a month. They will come first in February to start the experiments with the workshop participants. At that meeting, members will decide on the composition of groups (this was their preference), and elect leaders. It is hoped that the groups will meet regularly to exchange experiences and for members to encourage and help each other.

If growers want to start their trials before this time, they can do so, using the 2 litre hand sprayers left with a John Peter, a teacher from the village.

A second workshop will be held mid-year to discuss the results of the trials.
Workshop evaluation

Participants were asked to comment on the workshop by answering the following questions:

What three things have you learned?
What did you like about the workshop?
What could be improved next time?

There was overwhelming support for the workshop and all the participants thought that it was a good idea to share information.

The workshop concluded with a lunch and official closing.

The organisers of the workshop, KGA/PestNet and MAL, are grateful to the Chiefs of Gwou’ulu and the community for hospitality, attendance and active participation during the three-day workshop. We also would like to thank Johnson Ladota, a farmer and resource person from north Malaita, who willingly shared his experiences on using botanical sprays on sliperi kabis and other crops. The infoDev World Bank is thanked for support.

Annex 1

Workshop participants


Ellen Lui
Emily Kiriau
Ester Reke
Emily Oneone
Ester Tegu
Gladys Tatalo
Josephine Inia
Mary Timo
Ellam Geu
Gwerii Fisiota
Samson Nokia (Chief)
Gladys Faifu
John Peter (Teacher)
Father Willie

Resources persons

Johnson Ladota
Roselyn Lulumae
Mclean Vagalo
Grahame Jackson

Hilda Tagini
Ellema Luke
Liza Marivale
Bright Ben
Margaret Falasi
Mafiliu Samane
Pama Kaelonga
Joyce Peter
Liza Soni
Caroline Faoka
Ellen Koto
Maena Fisiota
Joanna Mary
Alick Inia (Chief)
Margaret Willie
Silverio (Headmaster)

Annex 2
Workshop timetable

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday
8.30-9.00 Official Opening (Community Leader)
Introductions and expectations (on small cards)

Workshop arrangements (rules and groups for social, service, spiritual and recap.) Introductions – how important is sliperi kabis compared with other greens?


Input from researchers, and discussion on most promising methods for experiments Introductions – another sliperi kabis question


Working in groups decide what to record (what, when and how?)
10.00-10.20 Break Break Break
10.30 Small groups:
Sliperi kabis pest and disease stories
∑ What is the problem?
∑ What does it do?
∑ Where does it come from?
∑ What season?
∑ What causes it?
∑ What else do you know about it?
∑ What do you do about it? Making the sprays Monitoring and follow up – by Farmers and by project

Evaluation in small groups

Workshop photo

Official closing kai kai
1.30 Collect samples of pest and disease from sliperi kabis gardens (Same small groups) Continue making the sprays

Choosing the trials.
What is a good farmer field trial?

Recap: what do we need and ingredients

Safety matters
2.30 Small Group Presentations
3.00 – 3.20 Break Break
3.30 - 4.30 Continue group presentations Go to garden: demonstrate methods for farmer field trials and apply sprays
Annex 3
Composition of sprays

Uka Chilli Tobacco Garlic Fu’u Ash Seaweed
∑ 2 roots of Derris
∑ Smash
∑ Scrape Kwato bark to fill 1/2 kg plastic sugar bag
∑ 5 leaves toiltoi (Wedelia sp.)
∑ Put uka, kwat and toitoi in a bucket overnight and cover with water
∑ Make up to 2 litres with water
∑ Strain add 2 grams soap
∑ Use ∑ 45 chillies
∑ Smash
∑ Put into bucket with 1 litre water and rub with hands
∑ Soak overnight
∑ Squeeze and strain
∑ Make up to 2 litres with water
∑ Add 2 grams soap
∑ Use ∑ 5 large leaves
∑ Smash
∑ Add 1 litre water
∑ Leave overnight
∑ Make up to 2 litres with water
∑ Strain add 2 grams soap
∑ Use ∑ Scrape 20 grams garlic
∑ Soak in small amount of vegetable oil
∑ Leave overnight
∑ Add 2 grams soap in 05. litre water and dissolve
∑ Mix garlic and soap
∑ Make up to 2 litres with water
∑ Strain add 2 grams soap
∑ Use ∑ Scrape one seed
∑ Add 1 litre water
∑ Leave overnight
∑ Make up to 2 litres with water
∑ Strain add 2 grams soap
∑ Use ∑ Take ash from fire (make sure cool!)
∑ Beat to make fine
∑ Put in coarse cloth or into a strainer
∑ Shake thinly over each leaf ∑ Take large handful of seaweed
∑ Wash to remove salt
∑ Put in bucket with water and leave to ferment (strong smell)
∑ Take one bottle (375 ml) seaweed and add 3 bottles water
∑ Add 2 grams soap
∑ Use

Note: Soursop is another product that can e used as a botanical spray. This is made as follows: collect all the seeds from a fruit; smash to a powder; mix with 2 litres water; add 2 grams soap; strain and use. Be careful not to the spray into your eyes.
Annex 4

Counts of insects on sliperi kabis before spraying

Date Group Method Plant no. No. of insects
Bubulu Siko Wa Wa
20 January 1 Chilli 1 10 1 0
2 30 1 0
3 25 0 0
Garlic 1 5 1 0
2 9 0 0
3 4 0 0
2 Uka 1 10 0 0
2 5 1 0
3 15 0 0
Tobacco 1 20 3 0
2 10 4 0
3 7 0 0
3 Fu’u 1 3 0 0
2 7 1 0
3 15 1 0
Ash 1 5 1 0
2 3 1 0
3 4 1 0
4 Uka 1 12 0 0
2 10 1 0
3 4 0 0
Seaweed* 1 0
2 0
3 0
Control 1 13 0 0
2 16 1 0
3 12 0 0
*Seaweed sprays were scheduled after the workshop following several days of fermentation

Mission 3: Taro at Gwaiau

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

KGA/DAL/PestNet Workshops on Taro
& Sliperi Kabis at Gwaiau and Gwou’ulu

Mission Report 3
19 to 28 January 2004

February 2004
Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

KGA/DAL/PestNet Workshop on Taro
at Gwaiau

Mission Report 3
19 to 21 January 2004

February 2004

Following PRAs in the project area in October 2003, Gwaiau was selected by the Baetolau Farmers’ Network as the site of a taro workshop. The village is in the highlands of north Malaita some five hours walk from the coast (although school children make the journey in under one hour!), and from the email station established by KGA/PestNet under the infoDev Project. The aim of the workshop was for farmers to identify and prioritise taro pest problems and, together with KGA, MAL and PestNet, discuss options for control, and to put these into practice. Monitoring of the trials is to be carried out by the KGA/PestNet Community Field Officer with regular updates sent to PestNet moderators by email and to others in the network.

The workshop was held in a classroom of Gwaiau School, and attended by 24 farmers, seven of whom were women. A list of participants is given in Annex 1.
Opening remarks

Opening remarks were given by the Chief of the village, Feni Aufiliu, who spoke of the importance of taro to the highland community, it being their only cash crop. Afterwards, the background to the workshop was explained. KGA started work on pest problems in the area in 1998, and found that there were many differences between farmers. This led to the idea of sharing experiences so that all farmers might benefit. The PestNet project is a way of doing this and at the same time gaining the technical expertise of scientists from many countries via the network. Other resource persons spoke of their interest in taro, either as members of the Planting Material Network (an NGO associated with KGA), as pioneers developing farmers’ field schools and working with youth in the area, or as researchers.

The farmers were asked to introduce themselves and to give their expectations of the workshop. The workshop agenda is presented in Annex 2.

Defining the pest problems

Working in groups, the participants noted the problems that exist on taro in the village, giving as much detail was they knew on damage, cause and seasonality. Samples were collected from gardens to illustrate the pests and diseases. The problems were then ranked in order of importance.

Ranking Problem (local name) Cause What does it do?
1 Alomae (34) Virus Kills the plants
2 Abadura (20) Phytophthora colocasiae fungus Leaf blight
3 Sisi (11) Papuana beetle Holes in corm
5 Fika (9) Pythium spp. fungus Rots the roots/corm
4 Warialo (1) Hippotion celerio moth Caterpillar eats the leaf
6 Snail (1) Snail Eats the leaves
The numbers in brackets are the votes recorded for each problem: each participant was allocated three votes.

It was not surprising that a lethal virus disease of taro should be ranked first; after all loss of the crop and planting material is of major concern. What was surprising was that there was so much disease in the gardens. It showed that customary practices of control were being neglected.

It was also a surprise that the participants did not mention Abadura, taro leaf blight, until it was brought to their notice by researchers. The disease has been on Malaita for about 50 years and it seems that it is no longer recognised as a ‘sickness’ by all growers, but rather accepted that is how taro grow. When it was said to be a caused by a fungus (Phytophthora colocasiae) its importance was immediately recognised and there was much interest in potential control measures. Papuana beetle was ranked third, but it not seen as a significant problem, at least, not compared to the first two. The root rot, Fika (Pythium spp.) was also given a relatively high score, but was considered only a localised problem in the gardens. The last two, the caterpillar and snail were considered of minor importance.

Control strategies

Following the prioritisation of the problems, the participants discussed control strategies, and demonstrated in the field the methods they currently use. For the most part, Alomae was the problem that received most attention, although one group elected to discussed taro beetle. This was followed by inputs from researchers and expert farmers. The epidemiology of Alomae was explained, together with cultural control measures and remedies based on botanical sprays.

Information was given on the way that Alomae spreads; and farmers were shown the vector of the virus, a plant hopper, Tarophagus sp. Important aspects of its life cycle were given to help farmers understand how the virus is transmitted from plant to plant. Removing affected plants as soon as they are seen is an effected method of control. How to pull out the plants without disturbing the plant hoppers was demonstrated. After removal, the plants should be burnt.

Pythium root rot was explained together with ways of controlling it. Researchers also explained the history of P. colocasiae in Solomon Islands, its introduction after World War II, its effect on the cultivation of taro as well as its biology and method of control. Emphasis was put on cultural control measures, and the use of resistant varieties bred in programmes in PNG and Samoa under a regional taro conservation and use project. It was agreed that the new lines would be requested through the MAL from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, where they are available as tissues cultures. There was concern, however, that the taste of the breeder’s lines might not be acceptable to local and Honiara markets .

As there was overwhelming interest in carrying out experiments to control Alomae, a demonstration was given on the way to make up three botanical sprays: furi (a local tree), uka (containing Derris eliptica), and tobacco. Methods of application were explained as well as safely precautions. The sprays are not to be applied to all taro in the garden, but only those immediately surrounding the plant with Alomae. Methods used to make the sprays are provided ion Annex 3.

The methods identified by the farmers to control Alomae were listed and then each farmer decided which one to test. The concept of a control plot was explained briefly. Some farmers elected to use the ‘customary’ method of control (pull out the taro and throw away and plant one or more strong smelling trees in its place) in addition to testing one of the sprays. This ensured that the new methods would be compared with the current way of controlling Alomae (although each farmer was requested to have a control – farmers’ normal practice – as well as the experimental plot. Who is doing what trial is given in Annex 4, and the various treatments are as follows:

Method of pulling out (roguing) taro Strong smelling trees Sprays
Furi (Felix) Uka (Johnson) Tobacco
Pull out straight and burn 6* 1 0 4
Fold up leaves and burn 0 9 7 1
*6 participants decided to use this method of control in addition to a trial using one of the botanical sprays
Monitoring the trials

Farmers’ observations

The farmers decided that they would note the following:

∑ Date of observation
∑ Number of plants with Alomae (and then removed)
∑ What spray was applied
∑ Comments

There were differences of opinion on when the observations would be made: some farmers said daily, others less often, perhaps once a week.

Monitoring by KGS/PestNet

John Felaka, Extension Officer, and Roselyn Lulumae, Community Field Officer, will visit Gwaiau once a month. They will come in February to start the experiments with the participants. A second workshop will be held at about the time of harvest of the trials, or just before, to share experiences.

Sharing experiences

At the first meeting, a man’s and a woman’s taro committee will be formed and leaders elected. It was hoped that the committees would meet regularly to exchange experiences and for members to encourage and help each other.

If growers wanted to start their trials before the first meeting they were free to do so, using the 2 litre hand sprayers left with the village chief.

Workshop evaluation

Participants were asked to comment on the workshop by answering the following questions:

∑ What three things have you learned?
∑ What did you like about the workshop?
∑ What could be improved next time?

There was overwhelming support for the workshop and all the participants thought that it was a good idea to share information. Some commented that the food was good, others wished improvement next time.

The workshop concluded with an evening meal and entertainment from a bamboo band.

The organisers of the workshop, KGA/PestNet and MAL, are grateful to the Chief of Gwaiau and the community for hospitality and active participation during the three days of the workshop. We also would like to thank Felix Laukasi and Johnson Laudota, resources person from north Malaita, who willingly shared their experiences gained from years of growing taro as well as the formulations used to make the botanical sprays that they use to grow healthy crops. The infoDev World Bank is thanked for its support of this project.

Annex 1

Workshop participants


Feni Aufilu
Eunice Ellmar
Seno Veva
Akwasia Philip
Rose Siunaliko
Iva Muinari/Jason
Simon Toifea
Maekete Billy
Peter Irolanga
Ellen Thaonaliko
Anna Laukasi

Michael Monesi
James Ngeobuli
Samuel Maerofia
Jack Sunate’e
Otageria Riifalu
Tony Orosano
Rino Dinarii
John Magei
Philip Iro
Foneta Sala
Stephen Luiota
Jackson Fa’aida
Silas Maeniu
Fread Laedan

Resources persons

Roselyn Lulumae
Felix Laukasi
John Ladota
John Faleka

Tony Jansen
Grahame Jackson

Annex 2
Workshop timetable

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday

9.00 Official Opening (Community Leader)
Introductions and expectations (on small cards)

Workshop arrangements (rules and groups) Introductions – how many varieties of taro do you grow?


Small groups:
Practical demonstration in garden on reducing problems with taro Introductions – what is the future of taro


Making the sprays
10.00- 10.20 Break Break Break
10.30 Small groups:
taro pest and disease stories
∑ what is the problem?
∑ What does it do?
∑ Where does it come from?
∑ What season?
∑ What causes it?
∑ What else do you know about it? Demonstrations by groups continue in garden Making the sprays
1.30 Collect samples of pest and disease from taro gardens (Same small groups) Discuss the most promising methods for experiments

Selection of 3-5 methods for experiments Select who is going to do what experiment (small cards) and why
2.30 Small Group Presentation
3.00 – 3.20 Break Break Break
3.30 Continue group presentations What is a good farmer field trial?

Why do we want to do field trials? Monitoring and follow up – by farmers and by project
4.00 Ranking of problems – voting by group members Evaluation in small groups
Evening Official closing kai kai

Annex 3
Making the sprays

Furi (Felix) Uka (Johnson) Tobacco
∑ Scrape off outer bark
∑ Scrape white inner bark
∑ Fill a 1 kg plastic sugar
∑ 5 chillies – hammer
∑ Add 20 litres water
∑ Bring to boil
∑ Cool, strain
∑ Add 2 gram soap
∑ Use ∑ 2 roots (1 inch by 1 foot)
∑ Scrape kwato
∑ Fill 1 kg plastic sugar
∑ 5 heads toitoi
∑ Put Uka, kwato, toitoi in to a bucket, cover with water
∑ Leave overnight
∑ Add 2 lire water, strain
∑ Add 2 gram soap
∑ Use ∑ 5 large leaves
∑ Hammer
∑ Add 1 lite water
∑ Soak overnight
∑ Make up to 2 litres with water, strain
∑ Add 2 gram soap
∑ Use

Note: the sprays should be used fresh, ie do not store and use later.

Annex 4
Who is doing what?

Aimomoko (smelling tree)

Stephen (P)
Samuel (P)
Peter (P)
Jack (P)
Rino (P)
Feni (P)

Furi (Felix) spray

Ellen Thaonaliko
Billy Mae
Jack Sunate’e

Tobacco spray

John Magei
James Ngeobuli
Samuel maeta

Uka (Johnson) spray

Feni Aufilu
Peter Iro
Rino Dinarii

(P) = Traditional method of Alomae control ie pull out and burn

Mission 1: Discussions with DAL/KGA

Kastom Gaden Association
Planting Materials Network, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, and PestNet

Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Network
(Solomon Islands)

Project #1222 infoDev The World Bank

24 July to 12 August 2003

August 2003


AusAID Australian Agency for International Development
BFN Baetolau Farmer Network
CBO Community-based organizations
CFO Community Field Officer
CMV Cucumber mosaic virus
CPRF Community Peace and Restoration Fund
DAL Department of Agriculture and Livestock
DVA Rural Development Volunteers Association
IPM Integrated pest management
KGA Kastom Gaden Association
NGO Non-government organization
OCAA Oxfam Community Aid Abroad
PC Project coordinator
PMN Planting Material Network
PS Permanent Secretary
SPC Secretariat of the Pacific Community
TLB Taro leaf bight


The project Linking Farmers to Plant Protection Networks (Solomon Islands) aims to pilot the use of rural email by farmers to better manage insect and disease problems affecting food crops. The project is located in a remote part of north Malaita where population is high, and where there has been considerable social instability due to the ethnic tensions of the last five years. It is an area where Kastom Gaden Association and the Planting Material Network have been working on livelihood improvement projects, including those involved with pest control using natural products.

The project began officially on 23 July 2003 with the signing of the Grant Agreement #1222 between the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development for the Information and Development Program (infoDev) and Pacific PestNet (now known as PestNet). The start was made possible by the Permanent Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Solomon Islands sending a letter of ‘non-objection’ to infoDev on 6June 2003.

The present report describes activities to initiate the project in Solomon Islands. It covers meetings with DAL, KGA, PMN and PestNet on 25 August, advertisement for a Community Field Officer, preliminary surveys in coastal and highland food gardens on Malaita by KGA/PestNet, and follow-up meetings with the Baetolau Farmers Network (a sub-group of PMN members of north Malaita) and its coordinating committee to outline a plan for the next 6 months. An itinerary of KGA and PestNet personnel is provided (Annex 1).

Meeting with DAL Honiara

PestNet, KGA and PMN met with DAL on 25 August 2003. PestNet described how the organization had been formed, its purpose, present membership and aims. It was a free service, operated by volunteer moderators, now with 470 members, which responded to a need among research and quarantine agencies, universities, and many other institutions, for fast exchange of plant protection advice and information. All messages were sent by email. It was primarily a service for the Pacific and Asia, but no one was refused membership, and members came from many parts of the world.

Mostly, there had been a positive response to PestNet, although there had been some criticism, and both the positive and negative attributes of the organization were outlined.

The reasons for the present project were stated. It was to assist an NGO that had been active in plant protection, testing local recipes against plant pests, but which needed scientific back up. It was also to see if farmers would make use of PestNet, in collaboration with a local NGO, to answer plant protection questions as they arose, and to work on important problems selected by the farmers as being of major concern.

Support for the project has come from several sources. This was outlined in the context of the history of the project to date. AusAID has provided funds for the email station at Silolo, and this became operational in September 2002. SPC originally agreed to fund PestNet to carry out several activities, but subsequently decided to channel funds through DAL, leaving it to DAL how the money was to be apportioned to the project. A grant from infoDev has provided the majority of funds. Present arrangements mean that PestNet does not have sufficient funds to monitor the project as originally planned as DAL has decided not to provide funds to PestNet.

PestNet welcomed the expanded role of DAL in the project, and said that it regretted that DAL had not been more involved in project formulation. Poor communication and political events in the country had made that difficult.

In response to the back-ground provided by PestNet, DAL reiterated its position that it wished to have a leading role in the project, and that it would nominate a person to be the project coordinator. This person would work on the project as a priority. DAL would provide funds to KGA as part payment of the salary of the Community Field Officer, as previously agreed (letter of 15 April 2003 from Permanent Secretary), and intended to sign the Agreement between the parties with the modifications that had been indicated. DAL acknowledged that the project had been through a difficult design process, and accepted the statement of PestNet that it regretted that there had not been greater involvement of DAL from the outset.

The Agreement was then looked at in detail and some minor changes were made to clarify roles and responsibilities. It was agreed that all the parties would sign the Agreement on 8 August (subsequently, this was changed to the 11 August as KGA/PestNet activities in Malaita took longer than anticipated).

A copy of the minutes of the meeting is provided in Annex 2.

Meetings with DAL Malaita

A meeting was held at Silolo on 31 July between DAL (Mary Falimae, Senior Field Officer, North and John Faleka, Field Officer, Malu’u), KGA and PestNet to brief the Malaita agriculture officers about the project. The reasons for the project were explained, the funding sources and the history of developing the project. Under the project, there should be ample funds for DAL staff on Malaita to participate fully.

Awareness raising was considered to be an important first activity, and this would be the function of the CFO once recruited. Awareness raising would also take place during the pest/PRA surveys, which were scheduled for October. These would identify the villages/farmers interested in the project’s activities and the field trials to be undertaken. It was suggested that a box should be made for the office of the Field Officer Malu’u. A camera was considered a necessity, although use of the one to be purchased by PestNet for the CFO would be available to DAL staff in the interim.

KGA reminded DAL staff that they were members of the Project Coordination Committee. BFN members would meet to discuss a range of issues including the PestNet project on Wednesday 6 August; the following day the new committee would convene and discuss the PestNet project in more detail. They were invited to join, and the agriculture staff said they would attend, However, neither they nor the DAL Project Coordinator (Lily Wame, Senior Field Officer), from Honiara, attended the meetings .

On 8 August a visit was made to the office of the Chief Field Officer, Malaita, William Horia. The CFO was briefed on the project and on the activities carried out on Malaita during the KGA/PestNet visit. The CFO confirmed that hibiscus or slippery cabbage, Abelmoschus manihot, was suffering from beetle attack (Nisotra basselae) and that people were growing exotic cabbages as a result. These, too, had pest problems. There was also a fruit rot problem on papaya. The CFO welcomed the pilot project as he said that DAL services were not reaching farmers at present due to the financial constraints of the Government and that having access to PestNet would be very beneficial. It was important that the CFO was kept informed of project activities, so that he could give the support that was required. It would be useful if the office had access to email.

On 11 August, PestNet and KGA were able to brief the DAL PC upon their return to Honiara, before she left for Malaita the same day to meet with staff in Auki and Malu’u. It was agreed that tour reports would be exchanged, and that the parties would keep in touch though email.

Silolo email centre

Result 1 of the project: Purchase information infrastructure is complete. With funds from the CPRF, equipment was purchased by PFNet, installed at Silolo and an operator trained. The station began operating on 9 September 2002. A report on the establishment of the station, the training provided and the Silolo email station management agreement can be found on the PFNet website (htt:// A Silolo Email Committee has been established and this will work with the other partners in the enterprise (DVA/PFNet, KGA and CPRF.

To date, the use of the station has been lower than expected, with the number of messages sent per month falling below 100 from May 2003. Correspondingly, takings have dropped, and in June were below $SB200. The lack of a concerted awareness campaign in the area, and the ethnic tensions, may have resulted in the relatively low use compared with other stations. It is expected that a return to law and order in the area, and the appointment of the CFO, will see usage increase.

Preliminary survey of pests and diseases in the project area

Visits were made to several coastal and highland villages in north Malaita. At Mana’abu, Suava Bay, slippery cabbage was being attacked by Nisotra, and also by grasshoppers shredding the leaves. Taro had taro leaf blight, and was generally not growing well on the nutritionally impoverished soils of the area. Sweet potato plants were showing deficiency symptoms, and photographs were taken for further analysis. Gardens around Silolo and Takwa (further north) had alomae, a lethal disease of taro, and also TLB. A taro bred by DAL in the late 1970s for resistance to TLB (LA16) was seen at Ngalitalo (near Takwa) where it was performing well, far better than a local variety (Akalomamale). Head cabbages appeared to be devastated by diamond back moth.

Felix Laukasi, at Ngalitalo, an expert farmer under the previous KGA IPM project, was experimenting with sprays made from local plants to prevent alomae. Furi and chili were said to be useful. These could be tested under the PestNet project, along with others said to be active: mala’aqua, konare, akathe, neem (from Honiara), uka (Derris sp.), and fu’u. Ngalitalo is an ideal place to conduct farmer-led experiments as it is the site of a village training centre, under construction with support from KGA and OCAA, where short courses for 20-30 people (as well as long term attachments) will be held on village-based activities (pigs, poultry, agroforestry, trees planting, etc.

Watermelon is an important cash crop at Takwa, but production requires the use of considerable amounts of pesticides. One family can produce up to 600 melons for sale in Honiara, with gross returns of $8,000, a lucrative business. There were no crops in the field at the time of the visit, but discussions suggested that considerable amounts of pesticides were being used, for as yet undiagnosed reasons. Packets of Orthene (acephate), Bravo (chlorothalanil) and Target (permethrin and pirimiphos-methyl) were on hand ready for the new crop, now being raised in the nursery .

Further inland at the highland village of Masilana (6 hours walk from the coast) several insects and pathogens were found associated with a range of crops grown by Johnson Ladota, a taro grower and member of the BFN. He is trying a range of vegetables and fruits, such as maize, Chinese cabbage, turnip, head cabbage, tomatoes and pumpkin. Preliminary findings showed that maize was affected by southern leaf blight, head cabbage by slugs, and tomatoes by grey leaf mould, Fulvia fulva (Cladospium fulvum), defoliating the plants. There were also symptoms of virus in pumpkin (CMV) and slippery cabbage (Hibiscus chlorotic ringspot virus). Neither was particularly damaging. Taro were without symptoms of alomae (the vector Tarophagus sp. was present as was its egg-predator, Cyrtorhinus fulvus), and TLB was a minor pathogen compared to coastal gardens.

Recruitment of Project Community Field Officer

The original candidate for the post, Matilda Koiko, is unavailable to take up the position due to illness. Efforts were made to find a replacement during the visit, but there was insufficient time for the advertisement to be circulated widely. Three people applied, but only one person arrived at Silolo on the appointed day for an interview. The position will be readvertised. The preference is for a woman with strong social skills; experience in agriculture would be an advantage, but is of secondary importance to an ability to work with communities. It is expected that the appointee will be selected by the end of August.

Once selected, the person will be based at Silolo. His or her first task will be awareness raising in the project area (Mbita’ama in the south, Takwa in the north and as far inland as the highland village of Masilana), plus the production of a leaflet describing the project.

Baetolau Farmers Network and Coordination Committee

In 1998, members of the PMN in north Malaita formed their own organization called the Baetolau Farmers Network. The idea was for people in the area to work together for sustainable agriculture using their own resources. The group has met irregularly over the years. More recently, when an AusAID-funded livelihoods project began in the area, the BFN coordinating committee was appointed to give advice and general direction, ie a steering committee to the KGA initiative. In time, it is hoped that the BFN will be registered as an organization with its own constitution. The BFN committee will also be the steering committee of the Linking farmers with plant protection networks project. The next meeting of the Committee will be October to coincide with the project survey, and a further meeting is scheduled for January/February 2004.

Work plan and budget September 2003 – February 2004

Some changes have been made to the budget allocations presented in the Grant Agreement (Annex 3). Funds for equipment have been provided by AusAID through the CPRF, so there is a saving under Result 1 of USD1300. Result 2 remains unchanged. Pest surveys are now largely financed by infoDev (Result 3), using funds previously allocated for the terminal evaluation meeting, which SPC have said they will try and support. Result 4 remains largely unchanged except of transfer of the meeting costs.

The activities for the PestNet project for the next 6 months were discussed by the BFN Coordinating Committee, and the work plan and budget are provided (Annex 4 and 5). The most immediate activity is the recruitment of the CFO, followed, in October, by pest surveys and PRAs in the project area, and, later, village workshop to choose villages/farmers and crops/pests for participatory trials and monitoring.


Our thanks to members of the Baetolau farmers who joined in the preliminary pest surveys, led us to gardens and discussed local knowledge on pest and diseases and shared much information. We would like to give special thanks to CPRF Coordinator, Lucian Konata, and his family, including Lucy, the email operator, who hosted us at Silolo during the visit to Malaita, 28 August to 8 September. We would like to acknowledge infoDev World Bank for its support of this project.

Annex 1


24 July 2003 Sydney – Honiara (GVHJ)
25 July Meeting with DAL
26 July Rest
27 July To Kakabona village to look at watercress pest problem
28 July Flight to Malaita and to Silolo by road
29 July BFN Committing meeting, Silolo
30 July Visit to melon growers, Takwa, and Ngalitalo village training centre
31 July Meeting with DAL, Silolo
1 August To Malu’u to interview potential CFO
2 August To Masilana, highland village
3 August At Masilana
4 August To Silolo
5 August Taro gardens around Silolo
6 August BFN meeting
7 August BFN Coordinating Committee meeting
8 August To Auki, and meetings with DAL
9 August Ship to Honiara
10 August Rest
11 August Signing of project Agreement KGA/PMN/PestNet
12 August Meeting with NZ 1st Secretary, and to Sydney (GVHJ)

Annex 2

Minutes of a meeting between KGA/PMN, PestNet and DAL

Reason for the meeting

The meeting was convened to discuss collaboration between partners in a pilot project Linking farmers to plant protection networks (Solomon Islands), using rural email to give farmers access to plant protection information.

The meeting took place on Friday 25 July at the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.

The meeting was Chaired by the Permanent Secretary, Morgan Wairiu, and those present were Ezekiel Walaodo, Under-Secretary, John Harunari, Acting Director Extension, Michael Max, Principle Agronomist, Roselyn Kobu-Maemari, Planting Material Network, Tony Jansen, Kastom Gaden Association, and Grahame Jackson, PestNet.


There was no formal agenda developed prior to the meeting, but the meeting took the following format:

Background to PestNet
Development of project and submission to World Bank infoDev
Collaboration of DAL with other partners and use of SPC funds
Agreement between partners.

PestNet background

Grahame Jackson spoke about the formation of PestNet. In 1998. Twelve or so people who were retired or partly retired joined together to form an association to provide agricultural advice to anyone that needed it in the region, via email. Those in the group covered all aspects of agriculture from planning to plant protection. Informing people of the existence of the group was difficult and in 1999, SPC invited a representative to attend a regional plant protection meeting to present the concept. The address given by Bob Macfarlane was well received. It was later decided to use a list server and to narrow the focus of the group to plant protection rather than all aspects of agriculture. Subsequently, four moderators were appointed: Bob Macfarlane, Grahame Jackson, Mat Purea and Wilco Liebregts. During the next 12 months, they tried to obtain funds for a list server, but failed, and the costs were too high for the group to support. Because of this, it was decided to use Yahoogroups, a free service, but one with advertisements. In December 1999, invitations were sent to about 300 people in the Pacific and beyond, inviting them to join Pacific PestNet.

Since that time, the membership has reached 470: all Pacific Island countries are represented, and many resource people from universities and research stations around the world have joined. More than 1800 messages have been exchanged on a wide range of topics, and many images of pests have been sent for on-line identification. PestNet was registered as an NGO in Fiji in June 2000.

In 2002, the service was expanded to APEC Southeast Asian countries, in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia. AusAID generously gave funds for an awareness campaign, and leaflets, fridge magnets and posters were printed and distributed, and a web site developed. In recognition of this expansion, Pacific PestNet became PestNet.

PestNet has been a success, and many people and organizations have commended it on its activities: people want fast, reliable, information and advice on plant protection and PestNet provides that. However, there have been criticisms of the service: it has been suggested that conflicting opinions provided by members could result in confusion, although this has not yet occurred; that tentative identifications made by members of critical quarantine pests could stop trade under the precautionary principle embodied in the WTO SPS Agreement, but this unlikely to arise, as many countries would not apply it based on an on-line identification, and all PestNet communications are moderated, so anything that is contentious would not be posted; there has also been criticism that PestNet members have work interests that might conflict with the aspirations of the group, but this, too, has not occurred. The moderators work for PestNet as volunteers unrelated to their paid employment.

Development of project, and its finances

A brief summary of the development of the project, Linking farmers to plant protection networks (Solomon Islands) was given, to put the meeting’s discussions into perspective. An invitation was sent to the DDG SPC in October 2001 to be a partner in the project, and in February 2002, SPC offered PestNet US$38,000. The project document was sent to DAL in March 2002, and in May after a meeting between DAL and SPC, when the project was further reviewed, it was agreed that a sum of US$37,322 would be allocated, out of which DAL would get US$5,0000 to monitor activities. With agreement between partners having been reached, and with funds secured, the project was submitted to the infoDev scheme of the World Bank.

In the event, the project’s finances were not secured. SPC withdrew support in September 2002, reinstated it in December, but directed funds through DAL. That month PestNet was informed by the World Bank that PestNet was one of 16 from 259 submissions to receive funds from infoDev. Further discussions ensued on project implementation and funding, and in June after discussions with FAO Samoa, DAL sent a letter of ‘non-objection’ to the World Bank, and on the basis of that the World Bank transferred funds to PestNet. In the same month, SPC wrote to PestNet that it would make every effort to “undertake to elicit support” for the evaluation meeting at the end of the project, and this allowed PestNet to use its reduced funds for other essential activities.
Finally, Grahame Jackson said that he realised that with hindsight DAL should have been more involved in the design process from the outset. He regretted that this had not been so, and offered an apology from PestNet for the oversight. But when the project was first conceived, the political situation in the country was different from that of today, and so were DAL’s capabilities. Also, PestNet had relied on other partners to negotiate with DAL, and this had not resulted in the collaboration desired.

In response to the issues raised, the PS DAL reiterated support for the project saying that it was in line with the Government’s objectives on food security. DAL wished to work with all stakeholders (NGO, farmers, CBOs, and the private business sector) on issues of common interest. He also said that he appreciated the apology given by PestNet. He had reminded SPC that funds from regional organizations needed to be coordinated by line ministries, in accordance with established procedures. DAL will collaborate on surveys, and it will call on assistance from SPC if there is a need. It will use the funds that SPC will make available to fund a Project Coordination Officer, who will have part-time involvement in the project, but who will make the work a priority. DAL will administer the SPC funds, and from that source provide a contribution to the salary of the Community Field Officer (US$3,350). However, no funds have yet been requested from the SPC, as DAL was waiting for the outcome of the present meeting.

The Agreement between parties

There were few comments on the Agreement; all present accepted it as written and with the edits of the PS. KGA asked that under 4.2.1 the Coordinating Committee at Silolo appoint office bearers as is normal practice, and this was agreed. PestNet asked for clarification of the duties of the Project PC, under the first point of 4.2.1: “provide overall project coordination”. PestNet took this to mean that the person would act as the focal point of the project, keeping everyone in touch with developments, sharing information, etc., in keeping with DAL’s executing role. It was confirmed that this was so.

There was further discussion on the budget from the World Bank and its allocation under four activities. In order to have sufficient funds, the number of visits by PestNet staff had been reduced. There was, however, a shortage of funds for extension materials and DAL was asked to consider requesting funds from SPC to cover this gap in funding. The shortage of funds meant that PestNet did not have funds to cover administration costs, and this was a concern. PestNet would try and obtain funds from other sources to cover this unexpected situation, and extend and expand the project.

Arrangements for starting the project

The project team will be going to Malaita on Monday 28 July. Unfortunately, the PC will not be present, but Mary Falimae will accompany the team, and John Faleka, Agriculture Officer, Malu’u, will be on hand to assist. It was agreed that KGA would advance the funds for DAL participation and be reimbursed from SPC funds when they arrived. During the visit, a Community Field Officer will be appointed (job adverts have already been distributed). A plan and budget for the next 3-6 months will be developed with the Baetilau Coordinating Committee.

It was agreed that Grahame Jackson would brief the Undersecretary on the mission to Malaita on the 8 August, and at that time DAL, KGA, PMN and PestNet would sign the Agreement.

There being no further business, the PS closed the meeting.

Annex 3

Budget: Linking farmers to plant protection networks (Solomon Islands)

Results Activity Specific Costs (US$)
(Prodoc) Info Dev requested InfoDev funds obtained MAL/SPC infoDev provisional budget
Personnel Materials/ equipment Travel/ Meetings Other
Result 1 Purchase information infrastructure
Purchase equipment 10,000 0 1,800 0
Set up and provide training 1,400 1,400 0
Provide technical backstopping 400 400 0
Establish office at Silolo 2,000 0 500
Result 2 Community awareness
Community Field Officer & travel 12,172 2,400 11,222 16,772 3,350 11,222
Meetings, workshops, PRAs 2,550 2,550 2,550
Production extension materials 3,000 3,000 0
Result 3 Farmer monitored pest control strategies
PestNet surveys & training 23,800 350 8,700 7,650 7,650 0 22,040
Pest identifications 700 0 0 0
Result 4 Monitoring/evaluation and audit
Coordinating committee 108 420 528 23,778 0 550
Project administration 2,920 450 126 3,496 0 3,328
Project monitoring 7,960 1,260 2,109 0 9,310
Participation of DAL 5,020 0 0 0
Dissemination of lessons learned 9,990 1,000 7,360 17,360 17,360 0
Audit 1,000 500 500
Total 59,642 16,908 27,836 700 50,215 50,000 20,710 50,000

Annex 4

Project activities from August to December 2003

Date Activity Responsibility
End August Recruit Community Field Officer (Silolo) KGA/PMN
September CFO to hold community awareness raising meetings in villages, in project area, on use of email & potential of PestNet to assist farmers. KGA (CFO)
September/October Production of extension leaflet, describing the PestNet project, and the use of email. KGA (CFO)
October (>1 week) Pest survey & PRAs to understand impact of pests & diseases on food production.
∑ Development of methology
∑ Testing in 2 villages
∑ Surveys DAL/KGA/PMN/PestNet (2 scientists: plant pathologist & entomologist)
(1 day) Survey members will report to the BFN Coordinating Committee, so that it can advise on:
∑ Villages eg Silolo, Takwa, Mana’abu, Mbita’a’ma, Talofe, Masilana,
∑ Crops/problems DAL/KGA/PMN/PestNet & BFN Coordinating Committee
Continued (2 days) Train & develop programme for CFO:
∑ Insect pests & diseases
∑ Use of digital camera & sending emails, distributing to farmers
∑ PestNet background
∑ Awareness raising KGA/PMN/PestNet
October/ November (>2 weeks) Workshops in villages to establish farmer-led trials (Note, these might be held over several weeks – decision will be made by BFN Coordinating Committee. The workshops will:
∑ Confirm problems
∑ Identify possible solutions
∑ Select farmers
∑ Trial designs
∑ Plan trials and monitoring DAL/KGA/PMN/PestNet
December/ January Project monitoring KGA/PMN

Annex 5

Project Budget 6 months from September 2003

Community Field Officer 11,734.5 1,466.8
Bicycle for CFO + spare Bicycle and parts 2,500 312.5
Awareness program in project area 2,000 250
Pest survey local expenses 4,130 516.3
Committee meetings 700 87.5
Bicycle for PMN Committee members 3,200 400
Farmers workshops (1500 per workshop *5) 7,500 937.5
Follow up Transport/farmer meetings / farmer visits 5,000 625
Silolo office supplies and stationary 2,000 250
Training supplies (brown paper, pens etc) 2,000 250
Extension materials (photocopy handout on project) 1,000 125
Email usage 1,000 125
Inverter 2,000 250
Monitoring and travel (PMN and KGA) 5,000 625
TOTAL 49,764.5 6,220.6

USD (Approximate) 6,220.6

Total Budget for local project expenses 19,172
Quarterly budget if equally distributed 4,793