Learn◊Grow Program Launched in Solomon Islands
The Learn◊Grow Program, which promotes the growing of local food crops, took a major step forward with the launch of the program in Solomon Islands on 17th August 2010. Forty people were expected to attend the launch, but one hundred turned up. The event received wide media coverage in Honiara with reports and photos in the three Honiara newspapers and a report on the evening news.
Centrepieces of the launch were the three high quality Learn◊Grow publications, the reference text "Food Plants of Solomon Islands", and two field guides, "Good Gardening and Growing Root Crops in Solomon Islands" and "Leafy Greens and Vegetables in Solomon Islands". Such was the demand for publications that some rationing was necessary. Reprinting of the publications is anticipated for future stages of the Learn◊Grow Program.
VIPs attending the launch included the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture and Livestock, the Under Secretary for Health, and newly elected MP, Connelly Sandakabatu, who was previously Head of the School of Natural Resources, and a strong supporter of the Learn Grow Program. Two of the Learn Grow team's leading lights, Buz Green and Bruce French, spoke at the launch.
While in Solomon Islands, the Learn◊Grow team of Buz, Bruce, Mary Wharton (from USA), Colin McQueen, and Solomon Islands Learn Grow Project Manager, Mark Johnson, wasted no time and fitted in meetings with 28 organisations. All these organisations were committed to assisting with the distribution of the publications to local communities, and to extending the Learn◊Grow Program throughout Solomon Islands.
The team was heartened to learn that the information provided in digital format at a previous visit was being used to good effect by some people. A common concern of people spoken to was that rice and noodles had displaced traditional foods in Solomon Islands. This was really at the centre of the situation being addressed by the Learn◊Grow Program.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea will be the second Learn◊Grow theatre of operations. Contact has been developed with key agricultural authorities and Rotary representatives in Papua New Guinea. The Learn◊Grow project in Papua New Guinea will benefit from the vast knowledge that Bruce French gained of Papua New Guinean agriculture when he worked as an agricultural scientist in the country.
Learn◊Grow has enormous potential to reduce the impact of malnutrition on the Filipino population, especially for children. Cebu has been selected as the first Learn◊Grow node in the Philippines.