Solomon Islands
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New Pack house for Taro opens in Malaita province

The New Pack house

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon. Jeremiah Manele officially handed over the country’s first ever pack house for taro production to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock this morning at Adaliua in Central Kwara’ae, Malaita Province.

Fully funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Solomon Islands – Enhancing Capacity for Agriculture Trade Project (SI-ECAT) at a cost of SBD 1.5 million, the pack house is expected to provide market access for taro farmers in the province and to ensure taro products reach the required standard for export.

Local Taro buyer in the Province, Goshen enterprise will be supporting the ministry with the pack house operations and implementation.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Minister Manele said the completion of the pack house is through the Ministry’s commitment to the agriculture sector.

“ The completion of this new taro pack house building here in Malaita is a testimony to my Ministry’s continued effort to provide funding support to develop the agriculture sector to help boost agriculture production in and around Malaita province, in particular, taro production that is geared toward export markets.”

“I’m confident, through this project initiative, Malaita province is well positioned to be the country’s export hub for taro, like Soltuna is to Western Province, if the right kind of support and synergy is put into developing this agriculture product.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Hon. Jeremiah Manele

Minister Manele also encouraged farmers to increase production of taro to reach the demand for exports.

“Taro is grown everywhere here. You have the fertile land and the manpower to do it. The different varieties of taro that are grown here can be cultivated by every individual and family in their own piece of land. I would like to encourage local farmers to go into taro farming and increase production so that Solomon Islands can get a share of taro export in the regional markets.”

 “On that note, I would also like to encourage Goshen Enterprise to aggressively establish a viable business model that supports the domestic taro value chains that would benefit farmers and resource owners,” he said.

Handing over of keys

Acting Premier of Malaita Province, Hon. Randal Sifoni also acknowledged EIF through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the tremendous support towards taro farmers in the province.

He also acknowledged landowners for availing their land for such developments.

“This will drive the socio-economic development of the province. The province is also looking forward to more of these kinds of developments in the productive sector to be forthcoming in the province. However, that can only come to reality if the province continues to embrace cordial relationships with its stakeholders.”

“The landowners must also be applauded for their vision and leadership in allowing their land for development. The provincial government in its redirection policy is willing to work with such like minded landowning groups that prioritise such big investments,” he said. 

Acting Malaita Premier Randal Sifoni

Meanwhile, a taro farmer from Farasi Village, Mrs. Donna Kwaita’a, said the new pack house will relieve the challenges they face as taro farmers.

“We sell our taro at Auki market. That’s our only market so when we are lucky we have people buying the taros but some days we go back home with bags of taro because there is no one to pay for them. “

“If you have relatives living in Auki it won’t be a problem but for some of us, we have to travel to Auki in the evening and at night we sleep wherever we can just to wait for the next day to sell our products. Now with the pack house open, we won’t have to face these challenges so we are happy and grateful,” she said.

The project is the second major infrastructure project that is funded under the EIF in the country.

EIF through ECAT has also supported Varivao Holdings and SAPE farm in Guadalcanal which focuses on cassava production.

ENDS//

By Eliza Kukutu in Malaita Province