Prime Minister Dr Sikua has said he believes Solomon Islands can grow its own rice to feed its people if every body works together.

Dr Sikua said in doing so, people can contribute to import substitution and lessen the government's burden of spending about 200-million on rice imports each year from overseas.

The prime minister was speaking at the first rice harvest of Bolikolu and Lega rice projects in his constituency of Northeast Guadalcanal last Thursday.

He urged all the people who are involved in the Bolikolu and Lega rice projects to continue to work hard and not to give up.

Dr Sikua said change and appropriate development can only happen in the rural areas if people worked together.

Dr Sikua said the idea for the people of his constituency to go into rice farming was prompted by the national government's policy to encourage small-holder farmers to grow rice.

He said this is in response to the rising cost of imported rice.

The East Tasimboko rice projects were possible with support from the Republic of China Embassy, the Taiwan Technical Mission and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

Meanwhile, prime minister Sikua said the people in East Tasimboko have learnt a lot of lessons from rice farming.

He said his people have engaged in rice farming for the first time, and they have found it very challenging.

Dr Sikua said rice farming places a different set of demand on his people's way of life, work skills and time, compared to growing traditional crops.

He said rice farming requires project members to work in the hot sun and to consistently turn up for work at the farm from 8-am to 6-pm each day.

Dr Sikua said rice farming also requires members to learn new technical skills, both on the paddy rice fields and with the machinery used.

He said members of the projects wanted to give up because work was getting difficult.

Dr Sikua said some members lost interest or simply got lazy and dropped out, but the majority who persevered, celebrated their hard work and commitment last Thursday.

Taiwan's ambassador to Solomon Islands George Chan says last Thursday's rice harvest ceremony has proved that the country can produce its own high quality rice.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Chan says Solomon Islands is a precious shining pearl of the Pacific Islands with plenty of fertile land, sunshine, clean water and hardworking farmers.

Mr Chan says in the coming months, he hopes to witness many more harvests of rice, corn and piggery all over the country.

He says members of the Taiwan Technical Mission, with their expertise and enthusiasm will continue to work closely with their Solomon Islands' counterparts.

Mr Chan says he hopes Solomon Islands will one day reach the goal of self sufficiency in rice production and food security.

Source: SIBC Online