BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
TAIWAN’S President Tsai Ing-wen and delegation had the opportunity to witness firsthand its most powerful tool of assistance to Solomon Islands – the Taiwan Technical Mission.
Accompanied by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Agriculture minister Augustine Auga, President Tsai and delegation were presented with the success stories of the mission’s work in the country.
Sogavare said, “The Taiwan Technical Mission has over the years been implementing capacity building of rural farmers, rural youths, women, and government officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, in various areas of agriculture.
“Take for example, ours watermelon producers in the country was privileged to obtain training at the Taiwan Technical Mission Farm where specialized production skills were obtained.
“Madam President, I am proud to convey that today we have some of the best and sweetest watermelons in the region.
“As a country with large youth population, the ongoing six months training of youths from Rural Training Centers is a significant programme that continues to empower rural youths with knowledge and skills prepare them for self- employment including helping them for future careers in agriculture and related fields.
“The impacts of the knowledge and the utilization of the technical know-how are evident at the local market where a wide range of varieties of fruits and vegetables can readily be seen.
“In a country where Non-Communicable Diseases continues to be the number one killer, the flow on effect of impact is that farmers are providing consumers diverse choices to supplement food nutrition issues.
“The Taiwan Technical Mission together with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and other stakeholders are in the forefront of promoting eating healthy foods and continues its ongoing programme in the diversification of crops for food security and livelihoods.
“Similarly, piggery development is a significant programme that looks at improvement of types of pigs that farmers can produce to give them quick returns.
“I have been advised that new pig breeds have been imported by the Taiwan Technical Mission from Australia not too long ago.
“These are now forming part of the pig improvement programme which will expand to Adaliua Farm in Malaita Province and Mile Six in the Western Province.”
Solomon Islanders are becoming self-sufficient in the pork industry, and Sogavere thanked TTM for supplying 1,800 to 2,000 breeding pigs to farmers each year.
With this number he said it is estimated 32,000 pigs would be processed annually, and two of our national objectives is to produce enough pork to be self-sufficient as well as for export at least to our neighbouring countries.
This we can achieve easily with the right strategies and especially farmers access to improved pig breeds.
“I am reliably informed that a live pig export trade is being arranged with the Republic of Kiribati through the Taiwan Technical Mission in both countries.”
Sogavare said other subsectors DCC government under its policy objectives would like to see expand are apiculture, or organic honey production, commercial agriculture and farmers associations development, agriculture research capabilities, and food processing for both crops and livestock.