The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) through the Livelihood Sector Committee (LSC) has boosted its Covid-2019 preparedness and response strategy with two Technical Cooperation Programme projects – funding agreement by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nation.
The first project worth USD$499,000.00 (est. SBD$4 million) and expected to be completed in two years while the second project valued at USD$500,000.00 (approx. SBD$4 million) and will be implemented within 12 months.
Permanent Secretary of MAL, Ethel Frances and FAO country representative and former MAL Permanent Secretary, Jimi Saelea signed the projects funding documents on 25th August 2020.
The first project focuses on “strengthening local food systems (impacted by COVID-19) by promoting climate-resilient and sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture value chains and will deal with strengthening urban and peri-urban agriculture in the country.” This is a City Region Food Systems (CRFS) project for Solomon Islands.
This project is expected to be completed within two years with various stakeholders will be collaborating to implement the various activities where the ultimate beneficiaries will be institutions, urban families, farmers, fishers, food vendors, market vendors, and government participating agencies.
Four key outputs under project one are as follows;
1. Will see capacities of national and local institutions strengthened to coordinate and plan for resilient and sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture value chains for food security and nutrition. Local food systems assessed for their role in the improvement of nutrition and food security and the priority climate risks threatening the overall goal of nutrition and food security. Technical guidance, training and knowledge sharing opportunities provided to governmental institutions for a comprehensive climate-resilient city-region food systems approach to food and nutrition security.
2. Capacities of value chains actors in the selected urban and peri-urban region strengthened on climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture and food production systems. Existing demo gardens in the urban/peri-urban area of each selected province re-enforced for training purposes. And agriculture extension workers and urban and peri-urban cooperative members trained on climate resilient and sustainable production practices for selected value chains. Selected producers trained on all relevant practices from soil preparation to post-harvest management and marketing.
3. Business and food safety capacities of stakeholders and vendors strengthened in selected food markets where technical guidance and training are provided to improve the management of existing urban/peri-urban food markets in Honiara, and technical support provided to the government “Mobile Marketing vehicle” initiative and market vendors on business management and food safety.
4. The capacities of selected communities strengthened to adopt healthy diets and school garden schemes promoted to raise awareness on healthy, climate sensitive and sustainable diets in selected schools, and raise awareness on the preparation and consumption of safe and nutritious foods.
The second project namely “response to effects of COVID-19 crisis in Pacific Island Countries” is a sub-regional project that is direct emergency response to COVID-19 pandemic in pacific island countries. Though regional in nature it caters for individual countries’ needs.
“The Project will support the development of evidence-based response measures for food security and nutrition and the adoption of fisheries and agriculture practices that address COVID-19 related needs in food production.”
This second project have three key outputs as follows;
1. Will see situational assessments conducted on the main effects of COVID-19 on agri-food systems, food insecurity and nutrition, with expected trends analysed and recommendations formulated on potential responses for achieving more sustainable and resilient food systems.
2. Will see fisheries-dependent households supported and fisheries and aquaculture supply chains maintained in selected countries.
3. Will see agriculture and livestock production systems enhanced in selected countries for food security and nutrition.
Speaking on behalf of FAO, country representative and former MAL Permanent Secretary, Jimi Saelea said FAO is pleased to be able to assist Solomon Islands Government and people prepare and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic where food and nutrition security and food safety are priority.
“Not forgetting that livelihoods strengthening is crucial currently for families to be able to chart through these turbulent times of the pandemic.
“In supporting and working closely with the Livelihoods Sector Committee and its members, especially the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Honiara City Council, provincial authorities, and other UN Agencies, it is hoped that the projects will be implemented successfully despite the restrictions which may affect travel for international project consultants, “Mr. Saelea said.
Permanent Secretary of MAL, Ethel Frances thanked FAO for the generous support and for their continuous assistance towards government through the ministry of Agriculture and Livestock national undertakings.
PS Ethel said having such support from international reputable organization’s like FAO in this trying time is reassuring and she is looking forward to the implementation of the projects.
The Permanent Secretary added that strengthening the country’s local food systems (impacted by COVID-19) by promoting climate-resilient and sustainable urban and peri-urban agriculture value chains is crucial.
Livelihoods Sector Committee (LSC) is headed by MAL with its members including the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Honiara City Council, provincial authorities, and other UN Agencies.
LSC is working to ensure people’s livelihood is properly managed following government’s declaration of the public state of emergency in March 2020 through assessment of current food stock levels in Honiara and other satellites market.