17 August 2019
Solomon Islands: Consideration should be given to exporting banana chips to generate income and aid the communities especially in Makira.
Last week in a letter to the main newspapers in the Solomon Islands, I wrote about the possibility of establishing a ‘one community, one product’ project; in line with the successful OTOP scheme in Thailand and based, initially, on the Japanese successful ‘one village one product idea (OVOP).
The OVOP scheme is a regional development programme which began in the Oita Prefecture in 1979.
The idea was for one village to produce one staple product as a business to gain income and to improve the standard of living of the residents of that village.
The Thai equivalent of OVOP is known as the OTOP programme and encourages village communities to make, improve and market the local products.
Marketing of the products is arranged by the Thai government and gets help from Japan with overseas sales in the Japanese market via JETRO, the Japanese External Trade Organisation.
OTOP products include a wide array of traditional handicraft, wooden objects, food, honey, fruit, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, pottery and cotton and silk garments.
In this letter I want to take the idea further and concentrate on Makira, being known as the banana capital of the Solomon Islands and where the people grow, use and depend on bananas more than anywhere else.
Makira hosts a rich diversity of bananas and one of the last strongholds of the Fei banana and edible diploids, some of which are considered as having played a part in the domestication of bananas.
I do not know whether any of the bananas grown in Makira are exported, unlike in Samoa, but maybe not due to the stringent import controls imposed by several regional countries, including Australia and New Zealand.
It occurs to me, however, that there could very well be a viable export market for sun-dried banana chips and a nutritional product found in many stores in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, quite possibly also in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Throughout South-East Asia unsweetened banana chips are delicately cooked in coconut oil for an all natural treat.
Much more than a treat, however, sun-dried banana chips have many health benefits, such as:
1. An excellent source of potassium.
2. They help cure an upset stomach by stimulating the production of mucus and cells in the stomach, thus creating a barrier between the stomach lining and the acids that cause upset stomachs and heartburn.
3. Bananas have been seen to be useful in the treatment of goiters, which are enlargements of the thyroid gland.
4. The pectin (a soluble fiber) in bananas helps fight off colon and pancreatic cancers.
5. Bananas have antibiotic properties to help fight off infections and viruses.
6. Bananas are excellent energy snacks, particularly for the after-activity period. They contain vitamins B6 and C, potassium, and dietary fiber.
7. During strenuous physical activity, your body loses a lot of these vitamins and minerals and eating a banana will help replace them and keep you going. Runners and bikers eat bananas after races for that reason. Bananas also contain more digestible carbohydrates than other fruit, calories from which the body burns off more quickly and easily than from protein or fat.
While banana exports from the Solomon Islands might not be feasible at this time the conditions for the cultivation of bananas are good, particularly in Makira, and the example set by Samoa should be considered for the longer-term export potential and income generation for the communities in Makira.
Samoa obtained banana plants from South Africa some years ago and created one or two initial plantations to test the plants suitability. The result today is there are known to be 50,000 banana trees at the Ah Liki Farm and soon another 2000 trees there are expected to start fruiting next month.
Samoa now exports their quality bananas to New Zealand where they are readily bought out.
I hope this piece will be useful and prove to be an encouragement to the people and communities in Makira and, perhaps with the help of local investors, or indeed those from outside, consider the initial potential of developing an export market from sun-dried banana chips.
A small bag of banana chips on sale in Thailand averages US$4.00 but larger bags sell for US$20.00.
Tonga signs deal with EU to revamp energy law
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 17 August 2019
“Tonga's government is working on a new national energy bill after signing a deal with the European Union yesterday.
“A lawyer working on the reform says laws governing petroleum, electricity and renewable energy, will be integrated into one bill.
“Sela Bloomfield from Solutions Consulting House said new provisions regulating gas will also be included.
“Tonga has an Energy Road Map aimed at lowering the Kingdom's dependence on imported fuel.
“Ms Bloomfield said yesterday's signing was a real milestone for Tonga.
"The EU in the representative statement yesterday emphasised the recognition that a strong legal framework was just as important as the technical assistance on the ground. So, this is recognition of years of work of different parties, but also Tonga's strong commitment towards achieving its energy sector goals," said Sela Bloomfield.
“A government spokesperson said the contract is for around $US130, 000 and a draft of the Energy Bill is expected to be before Cabinet in June next year.”
Copyright @ 2019, Radio New Zealand.
16 August 2019
RSIPF enforcement action to stop Kwaso production.
It is encouraging to note that the RSIPF is actively pursuing an intensive operation to crack-down on the illegal brewing and sale of kwaso throughout the Solomon Islands.
A police media statement this week outlined the RSIPF’s operation and said:
“Kwaso is illegal. It affects the health of people who consume the home brew and it causes social problems including violence in families and the community at large.
“The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) is issuing the warning as it continues to roll out the Kwaso Action Plan throughout the provinces with stakeholders including the National and Provincial Governments, the private sector, the justice sector, the youth sector, Crime Prevention Councils, non-government organisations, councils of chiefs, civil organisations.
“The Plan is aimed at disrupting the production and distribution of kwaso through inter-agency, inter-provincial and multi-unit policing operations as well as zero tolerance policing of kwaso production and distribution offences.
“Kwaso, including its production, selling and possession is illegal. It has an immediate and long term effect on the body. The consumption of kwaso can also cause a lot of social problems including violence in the family and the communities. It is also a common factor in road accidents as well as street crime and violence,” says Assistant Commissioner of Police, Joseph Manelugu, who chairs the RSIPF Kwaso Action Plan Committee.
“ACP Manelugu explains: “Brewing of kwaso is illegal in Solomon Islands. If you are caught with any equipment for producing kwaso, producing it or assisting someone to produce it, selling or in possession of kwaso, you will be arrested and charged.”
“If you are arrested and found guilty by a Court for breaking the law regarding kwaso you can receive a fine up to $30,000.00 or five years imprisonment or both,” says ACP Manelugu.
“He adds: “As the RSIPF’s frontline officers continue to raid and arrest people who are producing, selling and in possession of kwaso throughout the country, the Crime Prevention Department continues to conduct awareness in communities to educate our people on the effects of kwaso on your health as well as your life generally. Provincial “Police Commanders (PPCs) are also implementing their provincial Kwaso Action Plans.”
“The RSIPF appeals to all members of the public to do their bit to stop kwaso affecting our population especially our youth. We know who is brewing kwaso in our villages or settlements. Report them to your chiefs and other community leaders or to the nearest police station. We cannot allow this illegal substance to affect our nation,” says ACP Manelugu.”
Source: RSIPF Media
I very much hope the current operations will succeed in stopping the brewing of kwaso and suggest a similar kind of operation be instituted to stop the growing of marijuana and its use.
Weather again a blow to Samoa banana exports
Quoting Radio New Zealand – 17 August 2019
“Unpredictable weather in Samoa has dealt a blow to the export of bananas to New Zealand.
“The country's largest commercial banana operation, Ah Liki Farms, had 30 percent of its crops deemed ready for export decimated by strong winds in July.
“According to the Samoa Observer, the crop will now instead be destined for the local market.
“But the farm's manager Leota Laumata Peleta said 50,000 banana trees will be joined soon by another 2000 which will start fruiting next month .
“He said they are expecting another 5000 trees to be fruiting by November - when their next export shipment is planned.
“Samoa's banana industry took a major hit with 2018's Cyclone Gita and has been slowly growing back, with government assistance.
“Exports stopped until October, when the Banana Grower's Association sent off its first container to New Zealand since the storm.”
Copyright@ 2019, Radio New Zealand.
16 August 2019
Salesian missionaries of the Don Bosco Technical Institute are teaching English to the children living near to the Ranadi dump site.
I was really pleased to have been able to report a good news story the other day when I learned of the promise of a CT-Scan for the National Referral Hospital and today, Friday, I have learned of more good news related to the children living near the Ranadi dump site in a suburb east of Honiara.
The story, I will quote, comes from a news release by missionnewswire.org and re-published in the Solomon Times on Line.
Here is the story.
“The Don Bosco Technical Institute Henderson, located in Honiara, the capital city of the Solomon Islands, launched a new project in 2019 to provide education to children living near the Ranadi dump site.
“The families who live there experience high rates of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy and most spend their days at the dump collecting materials that can be recycled.
“Children are very often working with their parents which prevents them from regularly attending school and receiving an adequate education. Due to the unsanitary conditions of the dump, the hygiene of these children and their families is precarious and negatively impacts their health.
“Since March, Salesians missionaries have been teaching courses to children, between the ages of 4 and 13, to read and write and to refine their calculation skills. Upwards of 70 students attend these lessons. Courses are also organized for older children who want to specialize in welding or manufacturing or work in the hotel sector. To date, there have been about 25 applications to participate in these lessons.
“The Salesian courses are aimed at raising awareness among parents so that they understand the importance of giving their children a proper education and are motivated to send them to school instead of working in landfills.
“In order to help the families replace the income that the children made while working, the Don Bosco Technical Institute has also created a program aimed specifically at mothers which allows them to use the institute’s land to grow vegetables which they can then sell back to the market.
“The Don Bosco Technical Institute has been providing education and skills training in the electrical, automotive, carpentry and machine fitting maintenance trades as well as life skills training and employment assistance for more 250 students over the last 16 years.
“While the majority of students are male, the institute has been working to increase the enrollment of female students by encouraging them to take courses in more typically male-dominated trades as well as providing opportunities for those who previously left school due to marriage or pregnancy. Currently, most young women begin at the institute with life skills training followed by courses in teaching and nursing.
“Most of the students at the Don Bosco Technical Institute are from poor families and many have dropped out of traditional schools,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “There, they are getting a second chance by learning skills that will enable them to find employment to support themselves and their families.”
I thank all at the Don Bosco Technical Institute for creating the programme referred to and for all the years of life skills training and employment assistance given to many socially disadvantaged students in the Solomon Islands for nearly two decades.