Western province agriculture declines

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By Mike Puia

Gizo

WESTERN Province has been known as an agricultural hub of Solomon Islands, however this understanding is now under question as the province’s agriculture sector is on reportedly on the decline.

This deterioration is concerning leaders of the province.

Deputy Premier of the province, Maloney Lopoto said they are concerned about the drop in agriculture in the province.

Lopoto said the agriculture sector plays a huge part in the development of the province and a decline is worrying.

The provincial secretary, Jeffery Wickham said the province was a main supplier of cocoa in the past.

Wickham said it is worrying that the sector has declined.

He said even with a huge cut on the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) budget, which affected the agriculture office in the province, the office can still do more.

Wickham said the agriculture sector can feed the people of the province and its visitors and provide employment.

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The work of the agriculture office in Gizo is directly dependent on the MAL office in Honiara with little control from the province.

The province and the agriculture office however work together in some areas.

One of these areas is work on the Mile-6 farm, a huge provincial farm in West Gizo.

The agriculture office helps run every technical things in the farm.

Staff of the agriculture office confirmed most of their work have been stalled since they have issue with funding.

Visit to other parts of the province, for instance, will not happen as there is no funding to cater for fuel to get agriculture staff out to the islands.

Principal agriculture officer, John Kepas, said their office will only wait on farmers who want support from their office.

Kepas said it will cost farmers more money but they have no other option.

He said communities where their field officers are present are lucky.

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