Simbo Island in the Western Province is now an officially certified organic island – the first of its kind in the Solomons.
The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) issued the certificate as a third party certification body in a ceremony this week.
Communities across Simbo came to Lengana village on Wednesday to witness the presentation of the certificate to the Madegugusu Womens Association.
Madegugusu means ”four places” and covers the four main villages of Simbo. Since 2012, the association has worked together with Gizo women in Business, the Samoan Women in Business and the Pacific Leadership Program (PLP) in Fiji to train and enhance knowledge and skills in organic farming.
PLP supported the group with funding and provided opportunities to train and secure markets overseas.
In June this year, an Australian inspector travelled to Simbo to conduct an organic audit and later approved the work and management plan.
Associate Managing Director of Women in Business Incorporated in Samoa Alberta Tuilave said there was more than 100 hectares of land and more than 400 farming families in Simbo.
“This certificate will open up a lot of economic opportunities for the people of Simbo,” she said. “One of the highlights is to build a virgin coconut oil site here in Lengana to minimise dependence on imported foods.
“In the past five months we also helped the women here to sell nuts commercially.”
Chief Tourism Officer for Western Province Jeff Patovaki said the initiative would boost agri-tourism for Simbo.
“There’s a lot of things you can do,” he told the people. “You can host an agriculture festival annually, you can create different activities for tourists where they can pick the fruits and vegetables themselves in the farms.
“You can provide bed and breakfast where you serve them organic fruits and vegetables and even take them out camping in the farms.”
The Western Provincial Government promised to support the association.
Ward member for Simbo Isaac Tatapu said his was overwhelmed and proud of their achievement.
“We people of Simbo ought to live a long and healthy life if we live and eat organically,” he said.
The certificate from NASAA is to be renewed every year in compliance with the International Federation of Organic movement.