THE World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a US$15 million project to increase agricultural production and improve market access for rural communities in Solomon Islands, initially focusing on Guadalcanal, Makira and Malaita provinces.
The Solomon Islands Agriculture and Rural Transformation Project will support 85,000 Solomon Islanders with training, farming and livestock support services, and infrastructure to help communities increase their agricultural production. The project, which will be led by the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) will assist smallholder farmers in forming producer organizations to enhance crop productivity, improve pig and poultry production, increase access and links to markets, and promote climate-smart agriculture through quality seeds, crop advice and climate information.
“Strengthening our domestic agricultural production, creating opportunities for rural communities, and supporting growers and farmers with access to markets is a significant priority and is consistent with the recovery effort of the Government. Therefore, there was a close partnership betweent the Bank project team and government officials to ensure that the final structure of the project captured these priorities,” said Harry D. Kuma, Hon. Minister of Finance and Treasury.
The new project will also strengthen knowledge, skills and capacity within the Ministry to provide timely support to farmers and producer organizations. Community resource persons and para-veterinary officers will be mobilized and supported to ensure technical advice and agricultural services reach farmers in isolated and hard to access areas. Young professionals (in partnership with Solomon Islands National University) will also be selected to join with the Ministry to support farmers in project areas.
“Agriculture is a critical sector for Solomon Islands and we’re proud to be supporting this work,” said Annette Leith, Resident Representative of the World Bank in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. “With 80 percent of people living in rural areas this project will provide direct benefits for Solomon Islanders and their families. Increasing productivity and access to markets will also open commercial opportunities in rural areas, which will help support the country and families as they recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.”
The project will support livestock and agriculture infrastructure including improvements to the Ministry’s National Research Headquarters and Training Center, provincial offices in Malaita and support for the Pig Breed Improvement Program and its facilities. In addition, to promote and nurture innovation among farmers, the project will assist the Ministry in organizing marketplace events, annual innovation competitions and grants for agribusinesses.
The Agriculture and Rural Transformation Project also includes an option for the government to respond to crises or natural disasters by reallocating project resources for emergency response activities – ensuring Solomon Islands can quickly and effectively respond to crises and natural disasters when they occur.
The World Bank works in partnership with 12 countries across the Pacific, supporting 83 projects totaling US$2.16 billion in commitments in sectors including agriculture, aviation and transport, climate resilience and adaptation, economic policy, education and employment, energy, fisheries, health, macroeconomic management, rural development, telecommunications, and tourism.