Academic Highlights Difficulties in Reviving the Rice Industry
Mr Otto and Dr Mike have something in common. That is there is a low potential to reviving the rice industry in the country (SI). Perhaps Mr. Otto wants any Tom and Dick or Harry to cultivate rice for that matter. Firstly rice is not an industry as one might think to believe as alluded to by Mr Otto. In fact rice is a crop planted by farmers within the agricultural sector/industry. I for one do think that Solomon Islands have a high potential to revive rice cultivation as a means to contribute to self-sufficiency. The 1970 till 1986 rice cultivated on the Guadalcanal plains produced quality yields. That variety cannot be considered as suitable to present times. Worldwide now a days development of new rice varieties through research and technology is becoming common. I take it that Mr. Otto's assumption is that the rice variety grown in PNG can be adopted in SI and produced the same results. However, am of the opinion that it must be researched and trialed to compare the results to claim a salute. I do understand that the Ministry of Agriculture is vigorously pursuing the re-introduction of rice cultivation/farming in the country and new varieties are being introduced since 2010. Currently the country imports a lot of rice to meet the demand of 45kg per person/year. So what is your strategy? Perhaps if you take agriculture in its entirety as advocated to be as back bone of the country, which literally means the economic development of SI; transforming that subsistence base to commercialization is far from it. You will not see any commitment by past successive and present governments that are fully committed to developing the agricultural sector as a strategic growth stimulant. Yet there is an agriculture policy in place at present, but it lacks financial support. Instead the constituency development approach takes precedence. Is that what you are counting upon? To revive rice cultivation and production more commitment on the part if the government is required to bring the country to a level where every household can involve and participate. Is that simple? Perhaps not, logistics to support rice cultivation/farming is a requirement, and also skilled manpower to support with technical knowledge as addressed by the policy is not there. What about the eagerness of the farmers to learn new skills and knowledge? Where this commitment is not in place, agricultural development will remain a subsistence sector. It’s not up to the brain, Mr. Otto. It needs commitment by the so called farmers, the majority of who are roaming the streets of Honiara or other provincial centers. I mean the men that supposed to do the work; or are you going to leave it to the poor women who already a lot to do besides taking care of the kids? Common Otto be realistic, we are a society dominated by men but have forgotten their role in the home and community.Anyway I leave it to the experts to contribute.Charles Lesi
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