A proposition for the Taiwanese Government to send a technical expert to Solomon Islands to assist in organising local farmers to go into commercial farming was discussed in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung yesterday.
Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare and his delegation currently on a state visit to Taiwan discussed the proposition when they met with the General Manager of the Kaohsiung Agriculture Development Company at the company’s office premises.
The Kaohsiung Agriculture Development Company, which was founded in 2002, comprises eight farmers’ associations from within the Kaohsiung County with the objective of protecting farmers’ interests and ensuring their products meet legal health sanitation requirements.
As part of Kaohsiung City Government‘s efforts to promote local agriculture products, this Taiwanese municipality through the Kaohsiung Agriculture Development Company exports specialty fruits and vegetables to South East Asia. It has also been actively participating in every international food exhibition and has won awards.
It has also successfully launched its first fair at Tampines Giant Hypermarket in December 2013, showcasing the freshest agriculture produce from Kaohsiung. Giant is a retailer chain in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The proposition was brought up by the KADC General Manager, Mr Hsiao Han Chun, when the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Ministers and backbenchers in his delegation asked him about the company’s operational activities and the possibility of it helping Solomon Islands to organise its farmers into an association to venture into commercial farming.
“If you need assistance in organising your farmers into an association, you could send a request to the Taiwanese Government to send someone to assist you in this regard.”
He added that, “Through the Kaohsiung farmers’ association, our farmers’ interest are safeguarded and at the same time quality of their produces is guaranteed.
“Through the farmers’ association, farmers are able to save money, borrow money at a low interest rate whilst the rest of it is subsidized by the government and on top of that farmets are paid health insurance by the government during their life-time.”
“In addition, when farmers work together under an association, they can become influential and this is good for them when it comes to advancing their interests.”
Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, Hon Duddley Kopu said Solomon Islands is eager to progress further in terms of food security by aggressively pursuing commercial farming.
On that note, he acknowledged the assistance provided by the Taiwanese Government for agriculture through its International Cooperation for International Development Fund, saying the assistance is of significance to the development of the agricultural sector.
“The training provided by the Taiwanese Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for Solomon Islands farmers by the Taiwanese Government under the ICDF programme helps towards the sustenance of food security and any further help towards the organisation of farmers would be greatly welcomed.
Adding on to what the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock said, Prime Minister Sogavare expressed that the idea of organising farmers to venture into commercial farming is something that the Solomon Islands Government really needs to address as 85 percent of Solomon Islanders are rural dwellers who are predominantly subsistence farmers.
“The biggest challenge for Solomon Islands would be the organisation of its farmers into an association so they can go into commercial farming. Understandably, turning from subsistence farming to commercial farming is not simple. It requires the technical know-how.”
“But this is something that the Solomon Islands Government would have to address to pave the way for commercial farming because 85 percent of Solomon Islanders live in the rural areas and most of these rural dwellers are subsistence farmers with no idea about commercial farming.”