ROOT crop production at leading commercial farms on Guadalcanal and Malaita are expected to increase following the delivery of farming machines funded by the Chinese Government through the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) programme on Friday last week.
A statement from Government Communications Unit said the EIF programme is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) targeting cassava and taro production.
The statement said the machines cost a total of SB$800,000.00 and included five new generation tractors, trailers and ploughing disks.
Three of the five tractors will be managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) and two were delivered to SAPE Farm and its 85 out growers on Guadalcanal and Goshen Ltd on Malaita and its out growers in the province.
SAPE Farm received an X 804 tractor and a 6 ton capacity trailer while Goshen Enterprise received an X754 and a ploughing disc while the remaining 3 tractors, trailer sand plough discs will be managed by MAL.
The EIF programme is coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and has been involved in supporting a number of projects in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
The GCU statement said the programme also funded the construction the latest National Public Health Laboratory which was handed over to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services last month to ensure local products meet international market standards.
A contract to build a Pack House in Auki, Malaita Province under the EIF programme was signed off recently between parties involved.
Officials from both the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening witnessed the signing ceremony.
“This support will empower our rural farmers to plant commercial crops and integrate more meaningfully into the economic system. This is a powerful message of hope to other farmers as we work to open up opportunities within the country,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele.
“The tractors will no doubt increase productivity of taro and cassava which means more efficient use of resources, which will bring the cost of production down and increase the output for both consumption and export.”
COVID-19 has hurt the local economy and China’s support is in line with the government’s redirection policy that will help economic recovery efforts of the government.
Manele hoped that more active participation locals in agriculture will put the country back on track and will lead towards graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status by December 2024.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister also announced that the EIF programme will fund additional tractors to support Varivao Company which has shipped a container of cassava abroad last week and the other one to East Guadalcanal’s Ghaobata Farmers Association with a farming area of 67 hectares in two locations.