Posted by : Posted on : 06-Apr-2020

Solomon Islands:  A desired outcome to end retirement

Many years ago during my time in Africa I once asked a stone carver in Swaziland to make me a bust of an African Nduna ( old man) so I could keep it as reminder of my time spent in the country.

The traditional carver spent several months chipping away at the lump of hard, black rock and ultimately gave me the figurine I was wanting and treasure to this day.

I collected similar pieces of native art in other countries I worked, including jade objects carved in Hong Kong and some pewter work from Malaysia.

I left the Solomon Islands prematurely as a consequence of the rise of tragic happenings that led to what we commonly refer to as the period of the ‘Tensions’ and never really got to see the development of the country as I would have wished.

A piece of traditional art as a keep-sake is one thing but my memory of the Solomon Islands would be best served in knowing of development, infrastructure , employment,  improved education, health provision and servicing, rural advancement and sound agricultural achievements.

At my age, looking at a carved, stone bust sitting on a shelf at home simply reminds me of the unfilled desire to have been able, in some way, to have contributed to the aims and ideals of Solomon Islands needs.

My restlessness on such affairs was heightened this morning, Monday, when I learned of the widespread flooding on the Guadalcanal Plains brought about by the onset of Tropical Cyclone Harold and resulting in the loss of food gardens and concerns of food security.

Thinking in broader terms of crop production and agriculture development in the Solomon Islands hampered by climate change and especially the encroachment of salt water from rising sea levels, I really do believe expert help from Israel should be pursued.

Those that have seen the growth and developments in Israel since the state was founded can attest to how Israel has made the desert grow, and I refer of course to the Negev.

In that hostile desert a whole variety of crops, vegetables, oil producing plants, fruit. including grapes, are commercially grown and exported to the world.

Much of the drip fed irrigation on the extensive farming reserves comes from brackish water, not fresh water.

A few years back, Israel’s Special Envoy to the Pacific Islands, Her Excellency (HE) Simona Halperin paid a courtesy call to the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare

The visit by HE Halperin followed an official request by the Solomon Islands Government to the State of Israel through MASHAV (Israeli agency for International Development Cooperation) for support in the area of fisheries, agriculture and education.

During their meeting, Prime Minister Sogavare thanked his Israeli counterpart, Hon Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel’s on-going support to Solomon Islands and for nurturing the Solomon Islands-Israeli relationship.

Prime Minister Sogavare further acknowledged HE Halperin’s for visiting Solomon Islands following the request by the Solomon Islands Government for assistance in the areas of fisheries and agricultural, as stated.

The Prime Minister assured the Envoy that the Solomon Islands Government would continue discussions with each other on areas of common interests such as fisheries, agriculture and education.

Most recently Israel has offered some agricultural scholarships to the Solomon Islands.

I know that MASHAV's programming is exclusively based on technical assistance and the transferring of accumulated Israeli know-how, technologies, and expertise through consultancies, capacity building and training activities both in Israel and in partner countries.

I would really like to end my retirement years in the knowledge that the Solomon Islands had progressed; much like Israel since the 1940’s and then I would feel satisfied knowing of the tangible achievements.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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