The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) together with the Sape Farm management has further augmented their partnership with a single-handed vision to transform cassava root crop into a recognized industry.
This came after another historic feat on Friday 17 July 2020 which got 44 cassava out growers in the Guadalcanal Plains signed a partnership agreement with the Government through MAL and the Sape Farm management.
The signing ceremony was held at the Sape Farm in the Guadalcanal Plains just month after a 2.7 million funding agreement was struck between MAL and Sape Farm.
The MAL-Sape farm funding agreement and partnership is an initiative to support the government’s Food Security Programme. Speaking at the signing, proud and excited Permanent Secretary of MAL, Ethel Tebengi Frances said, seeing the partnership grows from strength to strength is reassuring and the Ministry (MAL) has plans and vision to certain that cassava recognised as an industry of its own in the future like coconut and cocoa industry.
She said that there are lots of potentials in the root crop (Cassava), but, getting the right mechanisms in place first is of priority.
“MAL has a lot of interest in this new partnership because of its plans to grow cassava as a new industry in the country and so we are committed to work in partnership with you. “Let’s grow this root crop together and make it an industry of its own. There is gold in this back yard crop.
“MAL visions for this industry includes cassava as rice substitute, for exports, as ingredients to animal feeds and can be further processed into flours, starch and others.
“With the right attitude and support mechanisms in place, cassava can make a turnaround to the country’s economy and changes a lot of lives. So let’s partners to grow this crop and build our nation,” the Permanent Secretary said.
There were more than 70 applications forms collected by interested farmers but fortnight ago Sape Farm and MAL decided to sign the first 44 who were able to return their forms by Friday 17 July. Sape Farm and MAL expect the number of Cassava out-grower to increase.
Mrs. Frances urged the 44 out growers that struck the first deal with MAL and Sape farm to commit to the partnership.
PS Frances in urging said, “I know the path would be challenging but we are here to support you and ensure you achieve your goals as when you succeed this vision is realized. With whatever little resources you have, commit to it and develop this root crop. Let us not discourage along the way.
“We are here to build a nation and we needs everyone’s effort together. I know that it will be challenging, but, as long as we make a commitment we can come out successful. So please do not give up. We are here as your partners and I believe we can make it. Let’s dream together and deliver together. You are our first partner in our vision develop a new industry so we are banking on you to make it work.
“As a Ministry we are committed to support this root crop to be recognized as an industry. We are going to develop it together.
“As long as we work together we can change more lives and this nation,” Mrs. Frances emphasized.
The Permanent Secretary was excited with the initiative and looking forward to working closely with Sape Farm management and the out growers and farmers around the country to grow the root crop and guarantee it recognized as an industry as MAL embarks on plans to revive the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, Sape Farm Managing Director, Dr. Paul Bosawai Popora said the signing event marks another history of establishing cassava industry around in Guadalcanal Plains and potentially through-out Solomon Islands.
“We are excited to roll out our out-grower policy and we are thankful for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for helping us realize the need to spread our vision to the rural communities around Guadalcanal Plains.
“We have seen people of their need to advance their socio-economic challenges through agriculture. We thank our Lord for his guidance and empowering hands to lead our way. We thank the National Government lead by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogovare for their support through our engagement with the ministry of Agriculture and Livestock,” Dr. Popora said.
Dr. Popora said Cassava is a new industry though it is regarded as one of our staple food over the years.
“Cassava industry has many unknown potentials and so we gathered here to turn those potential into reality for our economic recovery and growth. As it similar to many other agricultural industries, it needs volume, quality and consistency to make good returns through our domestic market and international markets.”
Two forms of out grower policies that Sape farm is embarking on as highlighted by Dr. Popora are as follows.
1. Out grower outside the farm
2. Out grower within the Farm
“When you registered under Sape farm out grower scheme, all cassava or potato produce will be sold to Sape farm packhouse under the out-grower scheme farm gate. The farm gate price will be determined by Sape farm management based on the export price and grading at the packhouse.
“If the out grower sold his or her cassava or potatoes produce to another buyer, Sape farm will terminate the contract and that all dues will be charged for payment. Sape farm will immediately informed the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock or relevant authorities,” Dr. Popora explained.
However, he said their urgent need to effectively implement the out grower is the machineries. “We need another two tractors to effectively roll out these programs. Another immediate need is the packhouse. This is the key to this industry.
“The focus of this out grower scheme is to improve livelihood and subsequently contribute to our national economy. Without the economy, we cannot live the life we dream for so farmers. Let’s all work hard for this and ensuring that we will achieve our goals in the cassava industry,” Dr. Popora said.
MAL PS, Ethel Frances, Undersecretary Technical of MAL, Michael Ho’ota, Peter Rarahabura, Director Planning Department, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Guadalcanal Province- Daniel Besa’a, MAL senior staff, government officials, Chiefs, community leaders, women, youths, children and farmers in and around Guadalcanal Plains witnessed the event.