19 August 2019
Solomon Islands: More is needs to be done to identify commodity export markets, gain private investment and evaluate down streaming possibilities.
The Solomon Islands Government is seeking new ways of ensuring long term economic stability in the country and keen to further downstream processing.
With a major port facility in Honiara, an international airport and a new airport at Munda allowing for international air connections to Brisbane, the time is opportune for the SIG to place much importance on securing private sector investment and development in accordance with the aim of achieving more self-reliance, economic independence and sustainability.ï¿½ Foreign investment participation in the development of downstream processing ideas and plans should be given more focus, given the facility support of shipping and air services.
I recently suggested the idea of exporting banana chips and, in the past, have suggested growing and canning pineapples, marketing honey, cultivated fresh, leafy vegetables by hydroponics and marketing to regional markets, via the nearest air destinations.
All such suggestions would provide benefits to communities as part of down streaming planning.ï¿½ Similarly, manufactured wood products, handicrafts and fish canning could give income returns if given proper market evaluation and investment.
Actually, in terms of fishing processing, the Hon. Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare, said in 2007 his government was aggressively pursuing downstream professing of its fish catch.
At the time Mr. Sogavare said the country earned 7 million U.S. dollars annually from its fishing industry but could earn 400 million dollars once it ventured into downstream processing.
He said the government would encourage small holder or tribal groups to venture into commercial fishing and sell their catch to a local canning factory until more factories could be established.
Mr. Sogavare said finance to assist small holders would be made possible through its guarantee scheme to be facilitated by the commercial banks.
He said to start with, the government would take delivery of 50 pump boats from the Philippines with a view to increase it to 300.
I doubt the proposals then put forward by the Prime Minister materialized, for one reason or another, but the idea of fish processing remains valid, I believe.
ï¿½The Solomon Islands government has discussed changes to the logging industry, with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare looking to halt all round log exports by 2023 and a shift from round log exports to downstream processing is on the cards but it seems progress is still slow to get down streaming developments and returns for communities.
Once ideas, such as the one I suggested for banana chips is mooted, theï¿½ Commodity Export Marketing Authority (CEMA) should step-up to make the pre-requisite evaluation and determine the potential for export in terms of its regulatory function.