The emphasis of the launching of RDP II was to enhance rural livelihoods through diversification and commercialization of Agriculture products by assisting farming households.
The expected result of RDP II is partnerships between farmers through Agribusiness support model design that would facilitate increase farming production and marketing of Agricultural commodities.
Agribusiness partnerships development services, marketing linkages and capacity building support takes a new approach designed for farmers’ material assistance which farmers in Temotu were not made aware of.
In an interview with Agriculture CFO George Suhara he said, Farmers were not aware of the new Agribusiness Partnership and material support approach launched last week.
Many farmers thought that the process of distribution of material assistance would be similar to RDP I through a neutral body like the Agriculture Division in Lata or Temotu Farmers Association.
In this new approach, farmers must try their best to form a political Ward based Associations to be their lead partner that would be responsible for material assistance and directly linking all other commodity business farmers to the exporters in Honiara.
One participant during the launching of RDP II asked a question regarding the new model design of Agribusiness partnerships referred to as a “lead partner Association” in the Agribusiness value chain that would be responsible for all farmers material distribution systems and directly link with an Exporter in Honiara and putting all other farmers under their direct financial and material assistance and control.
We take cocoa wet bean processing and reselling business for instance, even though an Association is put in place by responsible authorities, many other private cocoa wet bean buyers are also operating and directly competing with them in terms of buying prices and directly linking with the exporters in Honiara leaving political Ward Association non-functional.
An interview conducted with RDP II launching participant after the launching workshop said that this new model of material assistance is a back ward or top down approach which farmers had left behind in the 1990s since it does not achieve farmers’ profit maximum benefit. It is not a good design and its value chain sustainability and workability for farmers in Temotu is questionable in the long run.
Farmers were not aware of the changes made by RDP II referred to as ‘lead partner’ as the recipient of material funding assistance instead of a neutral body like Agriculture Division in Lata or Temotu Farmers Association.
When material funding assistance is received by the lead partner Association then it will assist farmers along the value chain of affiliated business farmers.
One participant during the launching of RDP II questioned the sustainability of the model design and how the model is going to work for the farmers in Temotu as the actual situation Temotu is very different.
In the new model design, only the lead partner will directly link with a commodity exporter which means that all other business farmers under the value chain will sell their products to their lead partners in order to qualify them to receive any sort of material assistance from the RDP approved lead partner.
Another participant during RDPII launching program explained the actual business situation in Temotu when it comes to Agricultural commodities marketing by farmers.
He said, Even though there are existing Farmers Association in Temotu, there are also many other small business groups and Business individuals who are engaging in wet bean purchasing and processing and are selling their products directly to agriculture commodity exporters in Honiara with material support from RDP I through Agriculture Division in Temotu.
This has been the Agribusiness practice here in Temotu and even though some of these small businesses may affiliate with their Farmers Associations as their lead partners, they will turn their back and break RDP value chain as their lead partners are also their direct competitor in the Commodity Business.
An interview conducted with a private Cocoa wet bean buyer in Lata said, his business will affiliated with any lead partner set up in May or June so that he is accessible to material funding assistance. When it comes to selling his business products he would directly sell his products to his export partners as they offered the best buying prices than the buying prices that a lead partner will offer its affiliated farmers.
Even though we understood that this new model will be non-functional in the long run as compared to the actual farmers’ business situation in Temotu, farmers are encouraged to affiliate under their ward associations to meet the project selection criteria of RDP aid donors and therefore not to be left out in RDP II.