BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
DECLINE in logging will see agriculture pick up downfall in revenue to stabilise the economy said the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).
This is if through serious allocation for more support to address the constraints the agriculture sector is facing to compete in trade.
MAL’s PS Mr Oswald Ramo, during the launching of Solomon Islands Enhancing Capacities for Agriculture Trade (SIECAT) project on Monday, said agriculture plays a major role in Solomon Islands employing an estimated 84 percent of the population comprising of 40 percent of the national GDP, along with Fisheries and Forestry.
“MAL in collaboration with other ministries and stakeholders need to strengthen and be strategic and more precise in what to achieve to address agriculture in trade going forward,” said MAL’s PS.
He said there is an urgent need now than ever to device good policy and institutional environment to enhance going into agriculture exports and value additions.
“We need to put more resources in agriculture to build research facilities that allows research and innovation, capacity to improve and support the Ministry’s planning department. We need economist, capacity in livestock, support to boost extension, biosecurity to support our farmers which will support more investment in agriculture economy,” Ramo said.
He also noted that the SIECAT project will enhance the capacities of national agencies to meet international market standards and requirements.
“Accreditation and recognition of the national agencies/labs is vital.
“Having accredited facilities will give more confidence to our importers and will also help local companies to test and analyse their product to meet standards,” explained MAL’s PS.
He said this is very important and it is one of the barriers the country continues to face when trying to export agriculture products overseas.
“There is no short cut in trade. Importing countries always demand that certain standards must be met first to allow products and export to pass through their borders”
“To be able to trade in agriculture, you not only need to be well versed with the systems, but must have the appropriate faculties, capacity, good communication with all stakeholders, financial support and the resources to be able to produce and analyse or test your product,” Ramo explained.
MAL’s PS urges that it is a challenge everyone must all work together to overcome.
He reminded that despite of the recognition that agriculture is the major subsistence economy and priority sector that rural and urban people survive on, it has lack of support in terms of providing appropriate facilities and farm inputs, machineries and acquiring new knowledge and skills in farming.
MAL’s PS pointed that these are some of the challenges currently faced that impede Solomon Islands to participate fully in trade.