The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock continue to deliver its mandatory services to farmers throughout the country despite reduction on its development budget due to Covid-19 pressures.
MAL Minister, Hon. Senley Filualea stated this in Parliament while contributing to the Sine-die motion, last week.
“…My ministry at the beginning of this year was allocated a $23 million development budget where $3 million for research and biosecurity and $20million available for farming support and infrastructures.
“However, as we progressed through the year, the emerging pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in our budget drastically reduced by 50% to $10million. Yet, I am proud of the achievements we manage to deliver this year,” he said.
Hon. Minister Filualea said that this year MAL invested in cassava farming with the aim of developing it into a new industry.
“There is so much we can achieve through cassava – as a new export commodity – exporting the roots and leaves, for the local market as cassava flour and as starch, roots and leaves as animal feeds and can be used in other value add products.
“A $2.7million investment with Sape Farm for root crop production for export, food security and animal feeds. As of today, the farm has now cultivated and planted about 31 hectares of cassava and now look to roll out more to its 80 out-growers around the Guadalcanal Plains,” he said.
“Earlier this year, we saw Varivao exported cassava to Australia in partnership with Sape Farm and its out-growers. In the coming months we expect to see more cassava exports as we look towards harvesting of current farms and the constructions of two pack-houses that will see proper processing that is meeting food safety standards,” Hon. Minister Filualea said.
He added a $2.4million support to Foodworks Supplier to increase supply of day old chicks to meet local demand is now materialised and launched on Monday 30th November with the first batch of day-old-chicks totalling 10,400 and a further 6,000 first week of December. Our chicken farmers often wait for months for day-old-chicks.
“It was reported to me that some of them are still waiting since last year. This support is timely creating income opportunities for our own people. Reducing the second highest agriculture imports – which is poultry products.
“We are ahead in our plans to develop our own local food supply systems than rely on other countries to feed us. These too will contribute towards improving our trade deficit which is now at its lowest.
“Our ministry successfully roll out a sup-sup garden program to support household within Honiara cope with household costs is a success story and I want to thank all of our people who responded and participate in this programs. We have just shipped seeds and tools to all provinces around the country to support farming activities.
“This year we received more than 300 applications from farmers for support. The Ministry approved about 200 as some could not supply the needed information,” the agriculture Minister stated.