|Title||Foods and diets of communities involved in inland aquaculture in Malaita Province, Solomon Islands|
Solomon Islands has a population of just over half a million people, most of whom are rural-based subsistence farmers and fishers who rely heavily on fish as their main animal-source food and for income. The nation is one of the Pacific Island Counties and Territories; future shortfalls in fish production are projected to be serious, and government policy identifies inland aquaculture development as one of the options to meet future demand for fish. In Solomon Islands, inland aquaculture has also been identified as a way to improve food and nutrition security for people with poor access to marine fish.
A WorldFish study under the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems has been exploring the potential role of land-based aquaculture of Mozambique tilapia in Solomon Islands as it relates to household food and nutrition security. This nutrition survey aimed to benchmark the foods and diets of households newly involved in small homestead tilapia ponds and their neighboring households in the central region of Malaita, the most populous island of all the provinces in Solomon Islands. Focus group discussions and semistructured interviews were employed in 10 communities (five inland and five coastal), four clinics, and five schools. The diet of the participants was characterized by large amounts of carbohydrate-rich staples and a limited supply of animal-source foods. Fresh marine fish and canned tuna were the most common animal-source foods. The results show that imported foods are regularly consumed, particularly rice and noodles. People stated that their choice of imported foods over local foods was spurred on by three factors: climate change, which was the reason respondents gave for lower agricultural crop production; changing traditional family roles; and migration to urban areas. Despite a majority of participants perceiving imported foods as “bad kaikai” (bad food), these foods are consumed on almost a daily basis and are often mixed with everyday local ingredients, which are perceived as “good kaikai.”
Tilapia has yet to become a common food item in the study households, although many see its potential. Tilapia was consumed by households that produced it from their ponds, although a few also caught it from neighboring streams or occasionally bought it from urban produce markets. Less than two years into the interventions initiated by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research project, at the time of this study, farmers were tending to focus on digging new ponds or producing larger-sized tilapia rather than on harvesting.
Although tilapia is not a preferred fish over reef fish, and with its small size requires different cooking techniques compared to some larger fish that can be bought at the market, a great interest was expressed in its production. Both men and women felt that farming tilapia was both cost-effective and time-efficient compared to the available options for accessing fresh fish, which are — depending on the distance of the village from the sea — going fishing at sea or purchasing fresh marine fish from local markets or directly from marine fishers.
|»||Solomon Islands - Population and Housing Census 2009|