Dodo Creek Research Station
Dr Jimie Saelea
Rennell Island Tall (RIT)
The Solomon Islands is a country in Melanesia, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly 1000 islands. Together they cover a land mass of 28,400 km². As of 2006, the vast majority of the 552,438 people living on the Solomon Islands are ethnically Melanesian (94.5%) followed by Polynesian (3%) and Micronesian (1.2%).
A history of the coconut industry in Solomon Islands is given by Ilala (1989). Since the ethnic tension in 1998, copra and cocoa have been the focus of most international extension and development projects. Moves to introduce high-yielding hybrids were unsuccessful in most cases because of resistance by farmers, poor husbandry and susceptibility to pest, disease and weed infestation.
Coconut research has been carried out since 1952 in the Solomon Islands. In 1960 a Joint Coconut Research Scheme was established by the Solomon Island Government and the Levers company, Russell Islands Plantation Estates Ltd, based at Yandina, Central Province. A seed garden for the production of Dwarf x Tall hybrids seednuts was producing up to 240,000 seednuts a year. Sixteen coconut varieties were also conserved at Yandina, until the blaze at the Dodo Creek Research Station in 2000. Levers was the largest single producer and buyer of copra and cocoa in the country (and the largest employer), but the company was declared bankrupt in 2001.
The Ministry of Commerce is currently focusing on the creation of production and marketing cooperatives for copra and cocoa production. Targets set by the national government for copra and coconut production in 2005 have been met (Evans 2006). Copra production has reached 20,000 tonnes, despite the closure of Russell Islands Plantation Estates Ltd. This suggests that smallholders are responding to relatively high prices and assistance from the Community Peace and Restoration Fund and others.
More info: Conserved coconut germplasm from the Solomon Islands (2.3MB)
Collaborative Activities between BIOVERSITY/COGENT and Solomon Islands
1. Capacity Building
a) Technical assistance/expert advice
From 1994 to 1999, five specialists visited the Solomon Islands on four technical assistance missions including assessing the country’s coconut R&D capability and assist the national programme in identifying common problems and opportunities for network collaboration; evaluating the progress of the ADB Phase 1 projects and identifying projects for ADB Phase 2 and IFAD-funding; serving as resource persons for the farmer participatory workshop; and evaluating COGENT’s germplasm collecting and conservation strategies in the country.
b) Training and human resources development
In 1998, one training course on Farmer Participatory Research was conducted in the Solomon Islands, participated in by five local coconut researchers.
From 1996 to 1999, six local coconut researchers have undergone staff development training sponsored by COGENT on topics such as the STANTECH; farmer participatory research; technical/ proposal writing and seminar presentation; and coconut data analysis.
c) COGENT meetings/workshops
To date, no COGENT meetings or workshops have been held in the Solomon Islands.
2. Research Projects
Four projects have been carried out in the country, with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as the implementing agency.
3. Financial Support and Funding
Donor funding support for projects in the Solomon Islands amounts to US$61,000, mostly from ADB, APCC and IFAD; while national government counterpart financing for the same amounts to US$94,600.