The Learn?Grow team has returned home safely after a very successful visit to the Solomon Islands. The interest in the project and the enthusiasm for it significantly exceeded expectations and strong indications of support were received.
Meetings were held with a wide range of individuals and groups in three of the nine provinces and included attending meetings of the Rotary Clubs of Honiara and Gizo, the only two in the country.
Meetings involved government representatives in the areas of Health, Education, Agriculture and Rural Development, NGOs including Oxfam, World Vision, World Vegetable Centre, APHEDA and CIP, Rural Training Centres, Church Missions, community organisations and others. Draft publications were introduced to obtain feedback and these were very enthusiastically received, to the extent that many asked whether they could be left with them while we were there. A number of potential channels were identified to enable the information and publications to be extended to remote communities and villages where they are most needed.
Much insightful information was also gained on the many issues that need to be considered in the development of sound extension strategies to support the implementation of the program. A Rotarian from the Honiara Club, Mark Johnston, has agreed to represent the program in the Solomon Islands. Mark is well placed to undertake this role as he is an experienced agriculturist who is seconded to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. The team included Bruce French, Food Plants International, Buz Green, RC of Devonport North, Mary Wharton, RC of Burke, USA, and Troy Melville, film maker. The Rotarians in the team were supported by a Rotary Volunteer Service Grant.