The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (JAAS) of China on 27 December 2023 signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate in support of rural vitalization in the constituencies of Solomon Islands (SI).
The MOU was signed in Jiangsu Provincial city of Suzhou by the Permanent Secretary of MRD Dr Samson Viulu on behalf of the ministry and the President of JAAS Professor Yi Zhongyi and was witnessed by Policy Secretary of Resource Sector (PSRS) in the Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet (OPMC) Jimson Tanangada.
PS Viulu said the signing was the culmination of a series of discussion between the ministry and JAAS which was initiated during the official visit by the Honorable Caretaker Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in July last year.
He said the signing translates one of the overarching technical MOUs signed in July by the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) and Peoples Republic of China (PRC) in Beijing.
The MOU purposes are to;
PS Viulu explained that the demonstration farm will focus mainly on promoting commercial rice farming under intensive farm mechanization instead of the manual labour-intensive practise of yesteryears.
“The intention is to reduce the nation’s reliance on rice import from abroad and replace it with large scale commercial production.
“This approach will likely save the nation of an estimated annual import spending of $800 million on rice and use that amount to reinvest in other agricultural subsectors to increase food security of the country,” he said.
PS Viulu further said that since the signing of the MOU, the ministry has not wasted any time by importing five sets of greenhouse materials to build trial plots in the country, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).
“The ministry (MRD) is now reaching out to some private farms on Guadalcanal plains, Kolombangara and Malaita to collaborate on piloting the rice trials.
“Under the same MOU, the ministry is expected to host a regional training here in Solomon Islands on Agriculture for the Pacific region through the China – Pacific Islands Agriculture Cooperation and Demonstration Center, a facility hosted by JAAS.
“MRD continues to explore other similar collaborations with other Chinese Institutes and Genuine Donor Partners abroad to roll out tangible development activities in our rural constituencies.
“The recently signed MOU when implemented will assist the ministry to achieve the objectives of the CDF Act 2023 and Rural Development in Solomon Islands,” PS Viulu emphasized.
– MRD Press