The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) and the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock (MAL) held official discussions with Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences (JAAS) of China as they design the way forward for more future practical cooperation in the areas of agriculture for rural development in Solomon Islands.
Held on 2nd November 2023 at the MRD conference room in Honiara, the meeting was dubbed fruitful.
Partnership to support and enhance agriculture for rural development in the country to improve productivity, food security and livelihoods was the focus of more thoughtful discussions by the parties.
They also used the opportunity and recognized a range of priority areas for deeper and practical cooperation which include; training, technical support, joint research opportunities and the establishment of demonstration farm/centre.
Permanent Secretary of MRD Dr Samson Viulu said the meeting was the first of many series of discussions they have with JAAS as they are working collaboratively and closely towards establishing a more reflective cooperation soon.
“JAAS is our right technical partner in agriculture. We will continue to work closely with MAL and JAAS to sustain and strengthen our partnership towards the development of agriculture in our rural areas in the country,” PS Viulu said.
PS Viulu also used the opportunity and briefed the visiting JAAS team about his ministry’s mandates, functions, challenges, opportunities and touched on the key reforms that MRD is undertaking.
“For MRD, we would like to collaborate with JAAS of course in agriculture as, we want to roll out decentralization of government services to all the 50 constituencies through the establishment of growth centres in the 50 constituencies. Some of these growth centres will host our colleagues from MAL and we will share resources.
“…in the rural areas are where the strength of agriculture lays but there are no agriculture technical people there. So, how can we bring those technical people to the rural areas? for us we want to collaborate with MAL through the growth centres. These growth centres (once established) can also host other ministries too,” PS Viulu said.
Permanent Secretary of MAL Lottie Vaisekavea while acknowledging JAAS for the opportunity said partnership is the only way forward in such responsibility.
“We want to benefit from JAAS and the opportunity you will offer to Solomon Islands because you have the expertise, experience and the partnership and collaboration that will really allow Solomon Islands to benefit from, especially from the research and agriculture activities, “he said.
PS Vaisekave said that some of the key important areas that MAL needs to progress includes; increase production, participation and technical support to increase productivity and research capacity.
“…the best way to allow everyone to benefit from such opportunity is to partner and collaborate together.
“We really want (that) training opportunity as a way to capacitate our team/officers here in Solomon Islands not only in research but also in planning and also the opportunity for joint research with your country (China) and other institutions in Solomon Islands going forward,” PS Vaisekave told the JAAS visiting delegation.
Meanwhile, JAAS President Professor Yi Zhongyi said agriculture development cannot be realized by the lack of a strong agriculture research team and research platform.
That, he said a joint training program will be tailored as part of the cooperation to boost officers and farmers capability.
“A joint training program including the training both for science technicians as well as for farmers can be done as the first steps for us.
“So, these discussions, will help us identify your foremost technical needs and the first specific areas to start our cooperation,” President Yi said.
At the same time, he said Solomon Islands should prioritise and put more emphasis on agriculture development for food security.
“More emphasis should be place on agriculture development. One reason why china progressing today is because its great emphasis is on agriculture. Agriculture brings people out of poverty. Development of agriculture in china base on three (3) aspects one is Input, Policy and Technology. The rise of science and technology has greatly contributed to agriculture transformation in China,” he said.
“Your presence to meet me in-person and my team is a strong expression that you have great importance in the rural and agriculture development for the country.
“I hope from these discussions, we can promote our cooperation in more areas in the future,” President Yi told the MRD and MAL team.
He assured that there will be opportunities for officers to travel to JAAS in China for trainings in the future.
“We need practical cooperation in these areas so that we can enhance our mutual understanding and promote our cooperation. We can have training in both ways. One way is that we will have our scientists to come here to demonstrate techniques and the other way is that you can send your scientists to our academy (JAAS) so that they can have long term training so that they can learn more about the agriculture complete production system.”
PS Viulu and PS Vaisekave on behalf of their respective ministries acknowledged President Yi and his team and for the fruitful discussions and are looking forward for more practical cooperation and engagement with JAAS experts in the area of agriculture for rural development once the practical cooperation is formalized.
They also recognized President Yi for the assurance for more future cooperation towards agriculture development in Solomon Islands and also expressed profound gratitude for the opportunity to meet with his team and reaffirmed governments commitment to working closely with China through Jiangsu province, JAAS for shared future opportunities.
The JAAS team also have similar discussions with the Office of the Prime Ministers and Cabinet (OPMC) and the Solomon Islands National University (SINU). They returned to China on 4th November 2023.
The JAAS delegation was in the country from 1st-4th November to deepen mutual understanding and explore potentials of future cooperation especially in agriculture development with the hope of establishing cooperative ties with institutes in the country.
JAAS is a comprehensive agricultural research institution established in Jiangsu province of China since 1931. It strives to make agriculture more productive and sustainable through technology innovation and it is a place where innovation thrives.
– MRD Press