THREE main important projects have been earmarked for implementation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) 2021 development budget, besides others.
Permanent Secretary Ethel Tebengi Frances highlighted these when her executive appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) last week.
The projects include;
- The Establishment of a biosecurity treatment facilities that will facilitate exports including fruits, vegetables, root crops etc.;
- The Establishment of an agriculture loan facilities at the Development Bank of Solomon Islands (DBSI) that will enable access to credit facilities or loans for all farmers around the country
- The Establishment of a Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock farmer support services centre to introduce mechanisation to increase production.
Frances explained that the purpose to establish treatment facilities at MAL biosecurity land at Henderson means that anyone who wishes to export fruits, crops or vegetables can do so as Solomon Islands will have a place where their products can be treated before exported.
“Solomon Islands has never been for the past 40 years set up such facilities that is why our farmers cannot export fruits and vegetables because of biosecurity standards and requirements other countries have which we have to comply with.”
The PS further stressed that the establishment of an agriculture loan product or facilities at the DBSI is specifically tailored to address specific needs of the agriculture sector. Our people, let alone farmers, cannot access loan to boost or increase their production. This product will be designed to address the unique need of the sector weeding out stringent criteria commercial products that deny our people the opportunities to better their farm production and lives.
“This was already negotiated with the DBSI. Plans is to sign an MOU with the bank so that they will also conduct financial literacy training for our farmers so they learn simple financial management technique that will allow them to repay their loan and still enjoy a good return,” she said.
On the Establishment of a MAL farmer support services centre, she said the idea is to introduce mechanisation to increase production.
“We are in the 21st centuries but have not supported our people with machines that reduces the burden of farming. We are starting with Honiara and Guadalcanal then to the provinces. We now have secured a new lease with the Catholic Church for reestablishment of the former Field Experimental Station at Tenaru.”
The Permanent Secretary then thanked the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) for its great wisdom for seeing the need to have its policies reviewed to be more refocused so resources are directed to where there is great need right now in the sector, being economic recovery and food security.
“The plan to establish biosecurity treatment facility received overwhelming support from the Minister and Office of the Prime Minister so it is very encouraging.
“As a government agency in the productive sector, our role is to support the government’s economic recovery efforts therefore our program this year reflects these new policy redirections so that there is more focus on exports, commercial farming and facilitation of trade,” Mrs. Frances said.