The people of Ontong Java in the Malaita Outer Islands are reported to be running out of food.
The Director of Health Services in the Central Islands Province, Dr John Paulsen, whose wife has just returned from Ontong Java said the people there who have become dependent on rice are running out of supplies.
He said as a result of sea level rise, the people no longer grow taro as the ponds they had used to grow the food crop had become salty.
Paulsen said the Ontong Java people supplemented their normal meal of grown coconut and fish with taro, but now it is with rice.
But he said most islanders cannot afford to buy rice as they no longer have the means of earning an income.
Paulsen said Ontong Java people had traded beche-de-mer to earn money, but this is no longer the case as the government had put a ban on the harvesting and trading the sea cucumber.
Meanwhile, the People’s Alliance Party (PAP) describes the report as very worrying.
The Party’s General Secretary, Edward Kingmele, a former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the people of Ontong Java definitely need government intervention.
He said the islanders had over many years contributed tremendously towards the national economy with earnings derived from bech-de-mer and marine shell exports.
Kingmele added the Ontong Java people’s contribution towards the national economic growth must be recognized and acknowledged.