By Gary Hatigeva
COSMO representatives who are here in the country to scout for potential products that can make it to the international market through its programme, Satofumi Kawata has suggested that Solomon Islands can become the next big player in the world food market.
The group came to identify major potential products that can be properly processed and exported from Solomon Islands to the United Arab Emirates under their exporting flagship, but apart from their main targets, Kawata explained that with their quality, fresh goods (products) can also be exported.
In a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Manasseh Sogavare, Mr Kawata further pointed out that having a small population in comparison to its mass resources, Solomon Islands will have more than enough to offer for the world as most are now relying heavily on imported food products.
It is unfortunate that due to lack of proper quarantine base for these products, it becomes hard for them to make the international markets.
Kawata however pointed out that if the government can provide such kind of function infrastructures, Solomon’s fresh goods can flood the international market.
“Considering the food market outside the country where land is becoming scars and population growth. So it is just a matter of time for the global society to be short of food.”
He said many countries in the world, some of which have the biggest and fast growing economies, have increased their rates of importation in food products to feed their mass populations.
“100 percent of food products in the United Araba Emirates (UAE) are imported while Japan relies on 70 percent of its imported food.
“And having high quality in your products, Solomon Islands can take over as the major supplier for these nations.
“They are short of food, whereas here (Solomon Islands), the country is still rich in its resources, and there is still mass access to land for production of food, with a population growth that is also very small having compared to the resources,” the Cosmo representative explained.
He added that with these analysis, Solomon Islands could be a reliable and continuous exporter of food to the outside world in the future.
“According to our analysis, Solomon Islands is one of the great potential countries in the world,” he further added.
He also suggested that the initial support in the investment on local producers is very important if they wanted to utilise the potential capacity.
“We came here one week ago and throughout our stay here, we found that the quality of products in Solomon Islands is very good, very high, but it could not be explained very well.”
Using tuna as an example, Kawata explained that dark flakes of tuna is regarded as one of the lowest quality layer product in the industry and regular operation could not make it products on them for human consumption.
This, he said, “is because the dark flakes can easily be damaged and easy to rot, however Soltuna continues to take a lead in its export products, which includes the canned dark flakes (Second Grade Tayio).
“For other potential countries, the level of their quality control is making it very difficult but here, quality control is excellent.”
He said the fishing processes in which fish are caught have very little damages or no damages to the products.
“And the processing is also very quick and that is why dark flakes could be exported overseas and this is just an example. Dark flakes is the evidence of very good quality control of the product. We also found that there is very good quality in local cocoa products, based on opinions of small scale exporters that we visited.”
He also explained that low quality cocoa taste bitter that is why when most factories make chocolate, they put high contains of sugar and milk to cover the bitterness of the cocoa, something their company felt it is not good for human health.
“Too much sugar is not good for health but it is unfortunate that without sugar, they cannot mask the bitterness of the chocolate and that is why most chocolate in the world are very sweet,” Kawata explained.
He said with top grade cocoa like it has been identified in Solomon Islands, there is the chance that manufacturers will certainly produce chocolates with less sugar.
“Top grade cocoa can differentiate chocolates produced in the Solomon’s from others and this only gives a clear indication why Solomon Islands products have great potentials.”