BY JOHN HOUANIHAU
TARO farmers in Malaita province, Solomon Islands could benefit from a collaborative partnership between Malaita –Agri social enterprise group and the Solomon Islands Development Agency.
The partnership will allow rural taro farmers in Malaita province to market and get better value from their taro crops through the value-added supply and processing chain partnership established by the Malaita –Agri social enterprise group and the Solomon Islands Development Agency (SIDA).
The partnership will allow SIDA to buy and process Malaita taro into flour that is the potential for domestic consumption and overseas exports.
Malaita –Agri Social Enterprise Group Representative, and President of Malaita Provincial Youth Council Philip Subu told ENVIRONMENT MEDIA that Malaita -Agri enterprise group is a collaboration between taro farmers from Malaita province with Solomon Islands Development Agency (SIDA).
“The idea now is to organize the Malaita taro farmers and later propose a SIDA-facilitated training for them on how to prepare taro crops for flour processing.
“Currently Malaita -Agri enterprise group has been sending the taro produces from Malaita to SIDA and they have been processing it into flour for them,” he added.
Subu said that the idea of this partnership is to test the potential of the introduced Mala taro flour in the local, regional and international markets.
“There are some good news like the bulk shop is now trying to market the Mala taro flour in their shops and also there are potential buyers from Kiribati who are interested to import Mala taro flour to the Kiribati market.
“Someone from the Solomon Islands who is living in Australia has also shown interest in the Mala taro flour and wants to introduce and sell the products in Australia,” he said.
He said that Malaita -Agri enterprise group is working collaboratively with SIDA to work together with chiefs and farmers.
“We want SIDA to create different value-added products from Mala taro flour into the market so that people can taste it and later introduce it into our local and oversea market for customers to consume,” Supu said.
Meanwhile, he said that SIDA has created a potential platform to support rural taro farmers and also the food processing industry in the country.
“SIDA is a blessing for farmers in the Solomon Islands and I appreciate the initiative for connecting farmers from rural areas to create value-added products from our root crops.
“I want to see more support towards SIDA, and I hope the government and donor partners can invest their support for SIDA,’’ the Malaita –Agri Social Enterprise Group Representative said.
He said that the Malaita -Agri enterprise group has been selling taro crops from Malaita to potential buyers at the local market in Honiara.
“Over the years, the Malaita -Agri enterprise group have been working closely with rural farmers from Malaita especially to establish a good supply chain for farmers and their produces (root crops),” Subu said.
Solomon Islands Development Agency is now leading the way in terms of the processing of dried cassava, kumara, taro, and banana starch into flour in the country.
ENVIRONMENT MEDIA understands that 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.