Posted by : Posted on : 17-Jul-2020

Solomon Islands: Could a form of Land Army assist to improve the economy and provide other important incentives.

I read the article in today’s Solomon Times which said, quote:

“For much of the rural Solomon Islands agriculture would be the only form of economic activity, many are informal establishments supplying exporters in Honiara. (Quoting the Solomon Times – 17 July 2020.

“The National Government has successfully completed a weeklong awareness mission on the Covid-19 Economic Stimulus Package in Malaita Province this week.

”An awareness team led by the Deputy Prime Minister Manasseh Maelanga together with some Malaita MPs and government officials has reached out with information about the package and the processes and conditions involved.

“People have also expressed satisfaction with the government for reaching out to explain the processes, selection criteria and other conditions for applying for the package.

“The stimulus package was initiated to cushion the negative impacts of COVID 19 on the economy. The overall objective is to keep the economy afloat and to ensure it does not spiral down-wards.

“The guiding principles of the stimulus include:

- Quick economic return.

- Significant impact on the rural and national economy in terms of employment and revenue

- And long term platform for economic recovery phase post-COVID-19.

The government had concluded similar awareness talks in parts of Guadalcanal, Isabel, Western, Makira and Choiseul provinces.

Awareness for Central, Temotu and Rennell Bellona is set for next week as well.”

(Source Solomon Times)

The guiding principles of the stimulus package are clear and I refer in particular for the need to boost the national economy and help create employment in the rural, informal sector of the country.

For those of us old enough to remember, the UK introduced a Women’s Land Army, a civilian organization during the Second World War, enabling women to work in agriculture and replacing the men called up for military service.

They picked the crops and did all the jobs that men normally would do on the land.

As the prospect of war became increasingly likely, the government wanted to increase the amount of food grown within Britain. In order to grow more food, more help was needed on the farms and so the government started the Women's Land Army in July 1939

 At first it asked for volunteers. This was supplemented by conscription, so that by 1944 it had over 80,000 members. The WLA lasted until its official disbandment on 21 October 1949.

Could the Solomon Islands Government consider the idea of a kind of Land Army with support from the official sponsors of the Rapid Employment Scheme to enable unemployed people, especially youths, to carry out informal agricultural work to help boost crop production, aid the economy, provide some means of income and, at the same time, encourage a return to informal sector farming?

Remember, too, 1 in 7 youths in the Solomon Islands are unemployed.


Yours sincerely

Frank Short

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