Rice returns to the Solomons

From humble beginnings in 2007, thanks to the Rotary Club of North Balwyn, Vic, the redevelopment of abandoned rice fields at the Don Bosco Rural Training Centre in Tetere, Solomon Islands, is now receiving recognition by the Solomon Island Government.

The Government has acknowledged in a very positive way the success of the Rotary rice growing and training program and has agreed, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, to meet the costs of sending two students from each of the nine Provinces (i.e. 18 students) for a four-month training course at the Don Bosco Rural Training Centre to learn “how to grow rice”.

The Government project is titled “Training the Trainer” – a term not new to Rotary.

Upon completion of the course each student is then required to return to their village and, with the support of the local community, re-establish new rice fields.

After a lapse of some 13 years, rice will again be grown throughout the Solomon Islands, a much needed food source for the local community.

The Don Bosco Rural Training Centre was established with just 20-30 students to clear the old rice fields. Student numbers attending the school today have now reached 150 who are learning reading, writing and arithmetic, plus rice and vegetable growing skills.

Bob Bott, of the Rotary Club of North Balwyn, recently returned from Tetere where he addressed the students at the Don Bosco Rural Training Centre on their graduation day.

“It was a very special day for both the students and their families,” said Bob. “It was a rewarding experience to see first-hand what has been achieved over the past five years. From jungle-like vegetation in 2007 to now lush fields of vegetables and cultivated land ready for the sowing of this year’s rice crop, plus new classrooms and dormitories for the growing number of students attending the Training Centre.

“This project is yet another great example of how ‘By building stronger communities we can achieve Peace through Service’.”