Agricultural producers groups are helping communities generate long term sustainable livelihoods and increase household income in remote Solomon Islands. World Vision is working with communities to identify high value crops, teach them business skills such as negotiation and group management, and improved production and processing skills in response to market demand.
The Community Economic Development project aims to provide economic empowerment opportunities through training and market research development activities for local farmers and fishermen. The producer groups are encouraged to shift their focus from short term products for consumption to long term sustainable products which can generate income to assist with household expenses.
While there are challenges Cyril Kulisuia, Chairman of Pia Pia Producer Group is seeing improvements in his community as people starting to learn to be more business minded and think about long term sustainable opportunities.
“Getting people to think about business is not easy because people think about their own consumption. The community needs time to learn about business, planning and savings but slowly things are changing” he said. “If things are managed properly it can be a long term way to make money and people can pay school fees, join the savings group and have money for emergencies” he added.
As part of the project, communities have established savings groups to provide opportunities for people to increase their savings and financial planning and provide lending opportunities in areas where traditional banking is inaccessible. Members of the savings groups come together regularly to make deposits into their personal savings account. They also deposit a fixed contribution to a social fund which can be used for an emergency or unforeseen expense. Members who have saved money in their personal savings account are able to take out small loans, borrowing against the money saved.
Harrison Waruhena, Chairman of Alite Community Savings Group, said “It helps me carefully plan, but before this savings group I didn’t know how to save money or what I spent my money on. Now I must calculate and be careful with my money. I hope to use loans to build my business, pay school fees and meet my goals. I like to have better control of my income and spending.”