Agriculture stakeholders has welcomed and thanked the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) for putting together the first ever National Agriculture Sector 10-year Growth Strategy and after a full day of review and validation endorsed the plan for Cabinet approval.
Representatives from Provincial Government Assemblies which include Provincial Secretaries and private sector including farmer group representatives commented and critiqued the strategy document during a stakeholders consultation held at the Kairos Conference room in Honiara on Tuesday 9th March 2021.
In her opening remarks, the Permanent Secretary of MAL, Mrs. Ethel Tebengi Frances stressed that “MAL is but one player in the sector to drive the execution of this Plan. All of us are in this sector and we must align our goals and objectives with this Plan, so we throw our best collective effort behind this roadmap as pathway to revitalise, modernize and commercialize the agricultural sector to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of all Solomon Islanders, ensuring food and nutrition security and increased economic growth.”
Mrs. Frances further said that MAL want all stakeholders to take full ownership of the Agriculture Sector 10-year Growth Strategy and Investment Plan (ASGSIP) 2021-2030 as is EVERYONES PLAN – a national guide for improving Agriculture & Livestock sector productive capacity to realize its full potential for stimulating economic growth & stability, wealth creation, and justice and peace.
Participants acknowledged that implementation of the strategy will be a huge challenge especially during these difficult times however similarly acknowledged that this strategy gives this country a clear guide on what need to be done to grow agriculture sector for a strong economy and improved livelihood.
“It is better to have a plan so we know how to get to where we want to be than no directions at all.
“Having this strategy is a big achievements for the Sector and so the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock must be congratulated”, said the Provincial Secretary for Western Province Mr. Jeffrey Wickham.
The Chairman of the Northwest Guadalcanal Subsistence Farmers Association, Bernard Garo commented that MAL officers under the leadership of the Permanent Secretary Mrs. Ethel Tebengi Frances must be commended for the vision they have towards the growth of agriculture in this country by developing this plan as a guide for the next ten years.
Meanwhile, PS Frances said that the key to success is in having a robust workable implementation strategy and that this Sector Strategy propose the establishment of an Agriculture Sector Advisory Council to oversee performances of the sector and advocate for legislative changes and resource mobilization and Industry Working Groups that brings the key actors or implementers around the industries they work in to discuss issues impacting their industries and opportunities to grow their industries.
“A monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for this strategy is being disused with the Ministry of National Planning and Development who will take on the monitoring and evaluation of this plan” Mrs. Frances said.
“The role of provincial governments in planning and overseeing development of their agriculture sector was discussed, including ways where MAL and provincial governments can work collaboratively to improve agriculture extension services to farmers in their provinces and support market linkages with private sector.”
Dr. Samson Viulu from the Prime Minister’s Office on the government also made a presentation on the DCGA redirection policies.
Participants were divided into groups according to their industries to review the proposed programs and activities with the aim of validating and prioritizing where investment in their industries in the next four years should be.
In his closing remarks, MAL Deputy Secretary Technical, Michael Ho’ota on behalf of the Hon. Minister and the Permanent Secretary acknowledged the constructive and important contributions of everyone over the one day of discussions.
“The inputs that you have given will go a long way in completing our strategy and most importantly getting more meat to say towards further validation of the ASGSIP 2021-2030 by other sectors,” DST Ho’ota said.
DST Ho’ota then thanked the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ethel Frances for her leadership in initiating and getting the ASGSIP 2021-2030 to where it is now.
He also acknowledged local consultant Joseph Waleanisia for his support in facilitating during the discussions.
Development of the ASGSIP 2021-2030 started during last quarter of 2019 with a nationwide consultations to all provinces including Honiara by local consultants with SIG funding support and with supervision and advice by FAO International consultants.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted its completion in 2020 but MAL is grateful all is now coming to its final development stages. The final draft will incorporate inputs collected during all the consultation reviews and then forwarded to Cabinet for their considerations and blessings.