Editorial: Up-Scaling Root Crop Processing Machines and Products in Solomon Islands, Giving a Leg Up for Solomon Islanders 

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SINCE the initiation of the Solomon Islands Development Agency in the country on October 2021.

The founder and Chief Exclusive Officer (CEO) of the local-based Non-Profitable Organisation Joseph Poha told Environment Media that evidently, the profitable way for our people to market and also to get better value for their root crops is to add value to the supply and processing chain. 

He said since the inception of the Solomon Islands Development Agency (SIDA) in October 2021, they have now transformed the concept into a physically viable reality.

Last month (March) Solomon Islands Development Agency introduced the processing of dried cassava, kumara, taro, and banana starch into flour in the country.

The introduction of healthy and nutritious bakery products like the production of cassava, kumara, taro, and banana into flour by SIDA is a way forward in developing new opportunities within the agricultural sector of the country as well as among people from rural areas.

The tropical products can be used to develop new value-added products for local use and potential export.

The aim is to demonstrate to the public, the available technologies and the processing techniques of producing flours and stock feeds from wastes cassava, kumara, taro, and banana peels, according to Joseph.

The establishing of the low-cost interventions and linkages, will all Solomon Islanders to sell their crops as partially processed crops and not as raw produce and have a readily available point of sales avenues. 

This will guarantee better price and people’s participation in the food processing industry in the country.

It is therefore important to assess the status of the latest innovation from SIDA because it can help efforts in introducing these new food products in the country in which tropical root crops flour replaces wheat flour. 

Diversifying the uses of root crops in food products development will enhance the utilization of the Solomon Islands agriculture sector and market potential (both domestic and international).

The innovation is the key milestone activity success SIDA in the country.

This up-scaling will enhance the root crops value chain in the Solomon Islands with improvement in livelihoods, especially for vulnerable rural farmers, women, and unemployed youth

The innovated crops processing project will resolve the present food security issue, gain better value for root crops, create employment opportunities and generate significant revenue for our people and all parties involved including our government, according to the founder and Chief Exclusive Officer (CEO).

“We also have stringent strict quality control measures and standards in place for compliance by our contract farmers through to processing as first stage and final finish product Processing stages.”

He said SIDA’s Vision is all about adding value to our people, our resources, and our cultures.

“Empowering our people to participate directly in the industrialization of Solomon Islands and encouraging ownership at all levels – public, private, and rural social and SME sectors, is truly FULFILLING THE MELANESIAN WAY OF LIFE. 

“We must not be copycats and continue to repeatedly settle for failed systems. 

“We are unique and our way of life is our way out by the grace of God.

“From this strong Partnership, we humbly announce that our value chain model pilot project is 96% completed and we will soon standardize and activate our full-scale value chain model into practice. 

“SIDA Vision is no standalone model. It calls for works to intergrade, merge and complement other organizations’ Visions so Together we will make the difference.

“In our development timeframe, SIDA has 2-3 years plans left to expand its unique people empowerment model into all of Solomon Islands. 

“This preparation and food consolidation plan is in line with the obvious global economic and food crisis that is already taking place in and around the world.

“Our full-scale model involves, a Contract Farmer to harvest and process the first stage of root crop which involves Peeling, washing, Slicing, Chipping and drying then delivers to SIDA Processing site where quality check, screening, and flour is produced. 

“This process alone propels the farmers’ price to a whopping $5 per kilo. That’s development!!! Better still, we process Solomon-made flour and we teach those interested how to make more profits from our flour by creatively making pancakes, biscuits, pizza, etc. 

“SIDA has gone ahead to secure its markets as well. Export markets and local markets.

“Again partnership is critical to our success hence we call to all stakeholders including government so we all can work together to effectively deliver services and products to our people and abroad.”

We can only hope the Government takes note of this.  It’ll be up to them to insist and support this prudent innovation.

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