Dear Editor – I would be most grateful if you could include my piece on cattle rehabilitation debate in Solomon Islands.
I have been following the cattle rehabilitation as it has progressed since 2008 and have yet to see this important agriculture commodity move beyond a few media articles, there is even no clear cattle information, technical assistance or veterinary services offered by the livestock department, the provinces are further disadvantaged and farms and farmers are left to fend for themselves.
I have heard that the Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) are scaling down on cattle rehabilitation, the Ministry’s focus now is on Oil Palm Plantations through the agroforestry approach.
Government has taken this approach based on the lack of performance at the cattle farms on Guadalcanal and Malaita.
If this is true then I think we have totally missed the point, what good will oil palm deliver in terms of food security; we don’t even have the capacity to refine crude palm oil, nor has GPPOL or other investors seriously approached or indicated interest.
I believe the approach to agroforestry is logging in disguise, any legislation to accommodate this absurd approach will truly backfire; mass scale oil palm plantations are best left to big countries with vast land mass; Island states should in no way be entertaining these ideas.
When we have places like Shortland Islands here in the North Solomon’s wanting agro-forestry we truly are a laughing stock; what will few hundred hectares of oil palm do? Investors in the sector want thousands of hectares; GPPOL is struggling to acquire more land for expansion, but with reluctance from Land Owners, GPPOL has also become reluctant to expand and invest more.
With this argument I urge our good Government to look at cattle rehabilitation as a priority and look at other provinces if Guadalcanal and Malaita are not preforming to expectations, your focus should also be successful locals that are currently preforming in the sector private and not Associations that have too much self-interest, in-fighting and money centred.
With this I would like to remind our Government that people will continue to eat daily and the need to focus on agriculture food production is definitely where our money should be and not the amount of lip service currently occurring.
Also I would like to ask if we have a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, because since the days of former high achieving Permanent Secretaries we are yet to see movement and implementation that our people can feel, relate to and enjoy some form of reassurance not just in the cattle industry but agriculture broadly.
Let Solomon’s struggle no more, let agriculture make it for us.
Gizo, Western Province