Honiara : 9 January 2017
Letter to the Editor, Solomon Star and Island Sun Newspapers.
Since the start of the New Year my eye has been focused on several projects and potentially beneficial ideas to aid Solomon Islands’ rural communities.
The first opportunity that comes to mind is the fact that the DCCG is said to be evaluating the potential of the the ginger market in Canada.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has claimed the SI agriculture sector is where most Solomon Islanders can actively participate in economic development and believes, currently, there is a market for ginger in Canada.
The PM is of the opinion that Canada wants 10 containers of ginger every month.
He envisaged the prospect of 200 women in all constituencies planting ginger to sustain 10 containers of such products every month.
It is also understood that the SIG has also been exploring the possibility of engaging in a large-scale export of cassava to the Canadian market.
Meanwhile, in other news, four oil palm projects of the Government appear to be progressing well in terms of feasibility, and a specialist is expected to be recruited from Malaysia for a year should negotiations run smoothly.
The four oil palm projects are the Waisisi oil palm programme, the Auluta basin oil palm project, the Choiseul oil palm project and the Vagunu oil palm project.
The Waisisi oil palm programme nursery maintenance is still ongoing, identification and land preparation by out-growers also ongoing and tractors and relevant tools were shipped in November last year.
According to the DCCG policy achievement document, a contractor commenced field preparation and planting of seedlings would begin as soon as funds were to be made available by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
At the Auluta Basin Oil Palm project, two hectares of land were negotiated and work commenced there in 2015.
GIS mapping was done on the Auluta Basin in July last year to determine land sustainability due to topographical constraints.
Work however has been pending waiting fund acquisition for the nursery establishment.
For the Choiseul oil palm project, surveys of five tribal lands totalling 5,181 hectares were done in late 2015.
The tribal lands are, Kiuka – 2,433.2 ha, Kegeregale – 696.94 ha, Pole – 427.42 ha, Zarakana – 1,318.99 ha, Sioro – 305.99 ha.
The Registration processes are still ongoing for the surveyed lands and a letter of no appeal is awaited to be lodged with the Magistrate in Gizo by the Acquisition Officer to facilitate the registration of the tribal lands.
As for the Vangunu oil palm project, a local engineer by the name of, Kenneth Bulehite, was engaged to do a feasibility study on the milling capacity of the project to determine the size of the mill that will be required to cater for the Vangunu oil palm plantations.
A report is awaited to be presented to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
The oil palm specialist identified as, Mr Abdulah Mahbob, is an experienced oil palm and coconut development specialist with 50 years’ experience from Malaysia
Negotiations however are still ongoing and the Solomon Islands High Commissioner to Malaysia is facilitating the arrangement.
Another very encouraging development has been the Rural Development Project (RDP) to the Babagiro Women’s Group of Makira Ulawa province with equipment worth $1.4million.
The equipment included a bray boat, a 25hp Yamaha outboard motor, and a two-tonne pickup truck.
All the equipment will help the women in their ngali nut oil extraction project.
The project was funded by the RDP through its partnership program with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) and the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination.
Partners to the ngalu nut project are Maraghoto Holdings Ltd (MHL) as a lead partner, Pinihimae & Associates Group (PAG) a Cocoa Exporter, and the Babagiro Women’s group.
The purpose of the project is to increase income for partners to support their business aspirations and families, empower women in business and leadership, and create more job opportunities for families and to increase production of ngali nut oil and dried kernel products for local consumers and the potential export market.