Overwhelming landowner response to the proposed Auluta commercial farming project in East Malaita was an important factor towards moving the project forward.
During a consultation and awareness meeting with three Auluta tribes spearheaded by officials from the Ministries of Commerce, Agriculture and the Office of the Prime Minister last week, tribal members said they are eager to participate in the project and called on the Government to speed up preparatory work to advance the project.
The Abukwaiara, Gwaibau’ula and Ambu tribal lands have been registered with Perpetual Estate (PE) titles held by tribal trustees on behalf of members. The three plots were amongst 18 other registered titles in the Auluta basin region.
Last week’s consultation and awareness programme paved the way for the three leading Ministries to develop the project programme for cabinet approval for the project.
During the consultations, landowning tribes were informed that an estimated SB$1 Billion is spent on rice imports in the Solomon Islands annually. Rice amounts to around 45% of the countries food imports, which, makes it a single most important commodity of concern for the country.
Rice for food security and sovereignty are important factors the demand the country to grow its own rice or to develop mass production of alternative food substitutes such as multiple cropping and crop rotation to reduce or alleviate high reliance on rice imports.
Ongoing preparatory works will map out feasibility studies that will determine suitable crops and farming methods as well as the best business model for the project.
The consultation programme also involved officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) to assess infrastructure needs to support the implementation of the project.