IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the private sector window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) have moved to further boost support for the fishing industry in Solomon Islands with a new US$10 million loan to National Fisheries Developments, Ltd (NFD).
The investment, to enable the purchase of a large tuna fishing vessel, comes months after a similar financing deal for NFD, which supplies tuna to its sister company, SolTuna Limited, the only tuna processing facility in Solomon Islands.
“The loans are enabling us to buy two large fishing vessels, creating more jobs as well as increase our supply of tuna for the cannery, which in turn creates even more jobs in processing” said Frank Wickham, Managing Director of NFD.
“Each vessel will provide at least an additional 7000 tonnes of fish to the fleet’s annual catch.”
Overall the latest deal marks IFC’s third investment to support the tuna industry in Solomon Islands.
In 2013, IFC provided a US$10 million loan to SolTuna, the largest private sector employer in Western Province and one of the largest employers in Solomon Islands overall.
The loans to NFD have resulted in about 150 new jobs at SolTuna and about 50 jobs at NFD.
“We understand that Solomon Islands is heavily reliant on tuna for revenue, food security and exports,” said Nena Stoiljkovic, IFC’s Vice President for Asia and the Pacific.
“The tuna industry is also an important source of jobs, in a country with a high unemployment rate, so it’s vital to keep up support for fisheries to spur economic growth.”
The IFC Vice President for Asia and the Pacific was speaking after a visit today to NFD and its sister company SolTuna in Solomon Islands.
The tuna industry accounts for 18 percent of the country’s GDP.
In recent years, NFD’s tuna catch has accounted for around 25 percent of the commercially caught tuna in Solomon Islands.
Along with the new financing, IFC has also been working with NFD to advise on best practices in environmental and social standards, including improved working conditions.
IFC’s advisory services has also worked with SolTuna’s management on solutions for women, labor and occupational health and safety, helping the company significantly cut costs and reduce absenteeism from about 18 to 12 percent.
IFC’s support for NFD and SolTuna has been complemented by the support of the Australian and New Zealand Governments under the Pacific Partnership.
Australia, New Zealand and IFC are working together through the Partnership to stimulate private sector investment and reduce poverty in the Pacific.