All it takes will be for some Chinese business to set up a large commercial piggery, cattle farm, cocoa and other root crop farms to kill off any attempt to promote increase of production through small holders.
The Government should protect Solomon Islander farmers now by encouraging the establishment of national corporations for piggery, cattle and other root crops in which all the farmers can own.
This is the only way in which agriculture production can achieve economies of scale to be able to compete by increasing supply for export and thereby increase returns to farmers.
Without this Government protection for local farmers, inevitable Chinese investment in agriculture at commercial levels will simply make this support inconsquential.
It might be time for the Ministry of Agriculture to step away from livestock support and revive the Livestock Development Authority which would be the conduit through which support for the national corporations for livestock will be provided such as the provision of feed, to reduce prices of feed for the farmers, and cut out the monopoly that Chinese businesses have on livestock feed which is making it expensive for our farmers.
I have always believed that it is in the design of the institutions that will influence economic outcomes, just like the vessel day scheme (VDS), and it is no different for agriculture. Government can put in money now and start national corporations for pigs, cattle, and other root crops to increase their commercial production.
All the respective farmers would have a stake in the various corporations. This is where the investments should be made in the how to design business models to achieve economies of scale in the agriculture sector across the country.
This will stay off any wave from Chinese investors who will without any inkling of doubt want to invest in these areas. When that happens we can forget about any meaningful participation by Solomon Islanders in the sector.
Given the political economy of the way our governance and policies are made, the naivity of our peoples to withstand political pressure, bribes and commissions, this is a real risk, and we should be concerned about this.
For the reader who might be wondering why I have ventured into a subject that I know nothing about; you might be interested to know that I happen to co own Nao Farm at Sikofata in North Malaita which is small cattle, coconut and cocoa plantation.
It is small by scale, but the largest by size for North Malaita, so I do have an interest and reason to be concerned about the prospects of Chinese involvement in commercial agriculture production. It will spell the end for most, if not, all small holder producers.
By Transform Aqorau