The first ever 10-year Agriculture Sector Growth Strategy and Investment Plan (ASGSIP 2021-2030) has received overwhelming support and valuable inputs from government line ministries as it going through final consultations for ratification before presentation to Cabinet.
This was after a one day forum organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) at the Kairos Conference room in Honiara on Friday 5th March with Permanent Secretaries (PSs) and senior technical officers of the government to get consensus over the draft strategy.
Permanent Secretary of MAL, Mrs. Ethel Tebengi Frances said the inter-ministerial consultation is critical as it brought every government agencies whose work impact or contributes to the growth of agriculture sector to discuss over the document, get inputs and share experiences that will support MAL towards the strategy final review work.
She further said the forum also provided an opportunity where they are able to discuss potential areas for collective participations and opportunities to develop the sector (Agriculture).
Mrs. Frances said the strategy (ASGSIP 2021-2030) once finalized and endorsed would become the first ever Solomon Islands Agriculture roadmap that will guide the country in development of the sector in the next ten years.
“MAL as a government agency overseeing agriculture sector only facilitate support and create conducive environment for the sector to thrive through development of policies and laws including regulations but the actual delivery is done by all who participated in agriculture activities. There are also laws hosted by other government agencies that impact on agriculture activities. Therefore, it is only meaningful that we all have a plan that sets out collective interventions to meet national targets in this national agriculture strategy.
“Now that the draft is ready, it is so important that it is reviewed and endorsed by all sector stakeholders before it is finalised. Ensuring all stakeholders review and agree to it add credibility to the process and enables collective ownership”, said Mrs Frances.
“It is our (MAL) duty to facilitate and support the government improve the livelihood of our people, create economic activities and build our country and so I am confident this 10-year roadmap is a conduit where we can better facilitate collaborative efforts by all players in the agriculture sector,” she added.
Mrs. Frances said that “taking a sector-wide approach in planning how to develop agriculture sector is a strategic approach in that the performance of agriculture sector is measured by the collective contributions of all its key stakeholders including the government, private sector including our farmers, development partners, NGOs and churches.
“A sector wide approach aims to strengthen sector performances by increasing coherence and complementary of interventions in support of a common policy framework,” PS Frances said.
The Permanent Secretary acknowledged the support of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) of the United Nation for funding support that allows them to engage Consultants from the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of the United Nation to put together the Strategy for the Ministry. Especially IFAD Pacific Islands Country Director Tawfig El-Zabri for his tireless efforts in mobilizing support for MAL and to FAO Consultant Mr Glaeser Anton for putting the Strategy together.
PS Frances, added that a similar consultation will be held on Tuesday 9th March for Provincial Secretaries and private sector including farmer group representatives. The next process after the final review therefore is to bring the strategy document to Cabinet for blessing.
The Permanent Secretary said that reviewing the current Act which is very old will be the next commitment so that the Act supports implementation of this roadmap. “We must have an Act that is relevant and captures today’s new opportunities and challenges. The current Act was done even before independence that is the Agriculture and Livestock Act 1935. The only current Act in agriculture sector is the Biosecurity Act 2013.”
Meanwhile, in his closing remarks, MAL Deputy Secretary Technical, Michael Ho’ota on behalf of the Hon. Minister and the Permanent Secretary acknowledged the constructive and important contributions of everyone over the one day of discussions.
“Your presence today, indicates your commitment and seriousness in seeing that the agriculture sector is properly planned and managed to ensure growth as a resulting increase of the contribution of the agriculture sector towards the National Economy.”
“The inputs that you have given will go a long way in completing our strategy and most importantly getting more meat to say towards further validation of the ASGSIP 2021-2030 by other sectors,” DST Ho’ota said.
He said agriculture remains the main activity for more than 85% of the population leaving in the rural areas and plays an important role with regards to the maintenance of food security, livelihoods Social Stability and peace for our Nation, Solomon Islands.
He said the development of this ASGSIP 2021-2030 is timely after 40 years without a roadmap. “We appreciate that there are many challenges facing the agriculture sector where there is no single answer and MAL cannot deal with alone and needs a sector wide approach.
“I guess this is the first time that we have a road map that considers a sector wide approach towards agriculture development in the country, it identifies strategic opportunities and outlines an ambitious path to revitalise the agricultural sector to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of all Solomon Islanders, ensuring food and nutrition security and increased economic growth.
“Drawing up a very good roadmap and strategy may be the easiest part of the whole process, implementing it will be more challenging, where we will need all your cooperation and assistance,” Mr. Ho’ota said.
DST Ho’ota thanked the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ethel Frances for her leadership in initiating and getting the ASGSIP 2021-2030 to where it is now.
He also acknowledged local consultant Joseph Waleanisia for his support in facilitating during the discussions.
Development of the ASGSIP 2021-2030 started in 2019 with a nationwide consultations to all provinces including Honiara by local consultants with SIG funding support.