To'abaita Authority for Research & Development (TARD)

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Close of chilli market turns sour for Malaita farmers.

CHILLI farmers in the country and particularly on Malaita were forced to abandon their production after the closure of the chilli market by Soltai Fishing &
Processing Limited (SFPL) four months ago. SFPL was the largest buyer of locally produced Nepalese Chilli grown by local farmers, which was used mainly for the canned tuna product commonly known as “Chilli Taiyo”.

The closure sadly forced the Department of Agriculture and Livestock to advice farmers to focus on other spice crops, especially vanilla.

Permanent Secretary of the Department Israel Wore said the issue is a sad development for farmers but his department could not be able to control forces that determined the market. But he said the department is looking for alternative measures and markets to solve the chilli market problem.

Among other pressing issues raised in the Department’s 2007 Corporate Plan is the development of the agriculture sector’s rundown human resources.
Mr Wore said the government needed to train and upgrade the knowledge and skills of Agriculture officers in order to raise the output of the agriculture industry in the country.

He said the country has very few specialised agriculture specialists and the ministry is currently facing threats of losing the only few experts in the country.
Mr Wore explained that the agriculture industry is suitable for the country’s vast rural population and there is a great need to raise the current subsistence level to semi-commercial level.

This is very crucial to drive down improved financial benefits to the rural population which is in line with the current government rural development policy,” he said.

He added that agriculture, which was tugged as the “backbone” of Solomon Islands economy, must not crash if the 84 per cent rural population of the country is to participate in the cash economy.

Source:Solomonstar News.

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