Visale Women and Melons

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Standing in the middle of her fresh juicy watermelons piled up and prized according to their variety of sizes, Anna Sirunga humbly and willingly shared her story of her harvest.
Anna is a mother of six from Visale, west Guadalcanal, she does subsistence farming for her family but has recently gone into planting and selling watermelons at Honiara’s Central Market as means to earn an income.
“I just started not long ago, this is my second harvest. Sometimes I sell cucumbers but I don’t get that much as when I am selling watermelons,” Anna said with a smile.
A normal day for Anna would be to try catching the bus from Visale to Honiara (about 2 hours’ drive west of Honiara) every morning costing her twenty five dollars for bus fair and a hundred dollars for her produces’ fee.
By the time she gets to the market, she can only hope that she has a spot to sell her produces.
“If I am lucky I have a spot and that will be my spot to sell my melons for the whole watermelon season. So I have chosen this spot but right now my challenge is the town council fee. It’s too high for us,” Anna said disapprovingly.
“But at the end of the day, we will make profit so we make sure we have money left over for the next day’s fee.”
It was in the middle of our conversation before I realized Anna mentioned a lot of “we” instead of “I” when asked who we is.
Anna laughed and pointed to the other five women beside her also selling juicy watermelons.
“All five of us came to Honiara together to sell our watermelons. We will go back together and come back the next day to sell the melons.”
Anna stated that sometimes, they make about five to six thousand dollars a week selling melons.
The women sell their own produces for their families, some assisting with the market as a part time work, and some sell on behalf of their families.
In Anna’s case, she is the breadwinner of the family and she comes to the market every day.
“It is very expensive to travel back and forth from the market, but there’s nothing we can do about it, as farmers we just have to make sure our produces are healthy and hope that everything will be sold at the end of the week,” Anna said.