A 10-year strategy targeted at revitalising, modernising and commercialising the country’s agriculture sector was launched on Tuesday 19th October 2021.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare officially launched the roadmap which also coincided with the World Food Day agriculture show celebrations staged at the Justice Ground at Town-Ground in Honiara from 19th-21st October under the theme “Our actions are our future – Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life.”
Dubbed as the first-ever Solomon Islands agriculture blueprint, the strategy is called Agriculture Sector Growth Strategy and Investment Plan (ASGSIP) 2021-2030.
“This is an ambitious roadmap aimed at revitalising, modernizing, and commercializing the agricultural sector to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of all Solomon Islanders, ensuring food and nutrition security and increased economic growth,” PM Sogavare said.
He said it is designed to make our farmers the most competitive and successful people in the country and in so doing transform the agriculture sector into one of the best in the region. “It was developed with substantial input from farmers, exporters, regulators, government officials, and policy experts, including a team from the Food and Agriculture Organization and International Fund for Agriculture Development of the United Nations.”
He said the strategy incorporates hard-learned lessons from the past and experiences from other developing countries around the world, focuses on new technology, and offers creative incentives to our local farmers as well as larger agro-processors.
PM Sogavare said the strategy is designed to launch the industry into the next generation and beyond.
“It is imperative that we have big dreams for this sector and I am convinced that the agriculture sector alone provides the answers to the many national challenges we face today, including unemployment, poor health, weak and vulnerable economy, and poverty. This strategy is intended to usher in a whole transformation in the way we do agriculture to make it a more competitive and modern industry.”
He said it is important farmers are introduced to the knowledge and new technologies in the agriculture industry to enable them to thrive.
“Government is fully aware of the importance of this sector thus we all have a role to play in this sector. Be rest assured this government is fully committed to progressively increasing our investment in the agriculture sector. This strategy proposes to reform and restructure the ministry so it can deliver effectively, especially the extension services through the rebuilding of extension service infrastructures like field experimental stations. Our goal is to grow our subsistence smallholder farmers to become commercial farmers.
“Our Strategy is designed to facilitate sector-wide implementation approach involving both the public and private sector including farmers, their organisations and NGOs supporting farmers. Other crucial implementation partners are our international development partners, national and international non-government organisation, civil societies, and religious groups.”
The Prime Minister also acknowledged all development partners that have supported the agriculture sector throughout the years.
A development partner working group is currently been set up to support the implementation of the 10-year strategy.
Permanent Secretary of MAL Ethel Tebengi Frances said ASGSIP 2021-2030 is the first-ever Solomon Islands Agriculture roadmap that will guide the country in the development of the sector in the next ten years.
“It is the first time we have a longer-term plan to capture the nature of agriculture investment. The country’s vision for the agriculture sector as presented in this strategy is for our nation to have “A sustainable, competitive and profitable agricultural sector that enhances economic growth, food sovereignty and prosperity for all Solomon Islanders”. It identifies strategic opportunities and outlines ambitious pathways to revitalise the sector.”
The overall goals of the strategy are:
• To increase agriculture sector contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
• Increased self-sufficiency through local food supply chains
• Decreased levels of stunting in children under 5 years
• Increased agricultural productivity and value addition
• Increased profitability for all value chain actors
• Decreased levels of people living below the poverty line
At the same time, PS Frances calls on the nation to take pride in the strategy and urge everyone’s support in the implementation of it.
“My comfort is in the untiring commitment of our farmers to this sector. As the government, we will do our part and you do your part as a business farmer, processor, or exporter. It is teamwork. We can deliver the aspirations in this plan but needs commitment.
“Now that the strategy is launched, MAL now looking forward to supporting the government by implementing it to improve the livelihood of our people, create economic activities, and build our country and so I am confident this 10-year roadmap is a conduit where we can better facilitate collaborative efforts by all players in the agriculture sector,” Ms. Frances said.
PS Frances thanked International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of the United Nation and the Solomon Islands Government for support and individuals who contributed toward the formulation of the strategy.
Meanwhile, Chairman for Northwest Guadalcanal Noni Farmers Association (NWGNFA) Bernard Garo while congratulating the government for the successful launch of the ASGSIP 2021-2030, acknowledged MAL for the vision in making the strategy that will definitely help guide the ministry, farmers, and stakeholders in the development of the agriculture sector.
“It’s a historic strategy. The first-ever in Solomon Islands history especially in the agriculture sector. This is a step in the right direction because the plan will guide the country in the development of the sector in the next ten years. The launch of the strategy demonstrated the government’s commitment toward the development of the sector. Therefore, I must applaud the government for it and for its unwavering support towards the sector through the years.”
Mr. Garo said he is looking forward to working closing with the government through MAL in the implementation of the strategy over the next ten years.
Wilson Leta, Small Livestock Officer from Kastom Garden Association (KGA) while sharing similar sentiments thanked the government through MAL for the strategy (ASGSIP 2021-2030).
He said having a roadmap to guide the country in the development of the sector is paramount. Over 80 percent of our rural population is involved heavily in agriculture therefore having a plan that will guide us in the development of the sector is important to improve the livelihood of our people and create economic opportunities.”
Mr. Leta said KGA is looking forward to working closing with the government through MAL in the implementation of the strategy.
The formulation of the strategy was supported by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of the United Nation and the Solomon Islands Government through MAL.