The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) has signed another exciting project worth SBD2.4 million dollar with Food Works Supplies Ltd for hatchery and feed mill services.

Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Ethel Tebengi Frances, says that the support given to Food Works Supplies Ltd will boost the poultry industry in the country. She says the company was selected because it satisfied two key government priorities, which the ministry is mandated to implement. They are import substitution and increased production of food locally as a food security strategy under the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was looking at some data forwarded to me by the Biosecurity team showing a total of around SBD$85 million worth of poultry products last year, making poultry products the highest value of imported meat into the country.

“But these figures could be higher because the data was incomplete, now that is a huge problem especially for our farmers because we basically import chicken meat that could easily be produced locally by our own people,” she said.

Mrs. Frances says we must explore ways to ensure that the money used to buy imported chicken stays in the country, which in turn will create “more jobs for our people and we do that by increasing production of poultry around the country.”

Mrs. Frances said that it is her dream to see more local meat products in shops around the country. The Permanent Secretary said that she understands Meat Lovers are producing local products and are already displaying them in their shelves, with plans to develop a local brand.

She says the ministry is keen to support such initiatives by supporting local farmers - this will increase local supply, one that meets good husbandry practices and is of good quality.

The Permanent Secretary believe that to grow the livestock sector in the country, there must be local breeding facilities, feed mills and processing facilities like slaughtering and abattoirs.

“At the moment, the greatest challenge to our farmers is feeds for their birds like chicken and animals or pigs because they are very expensive, so they are not able to compete with imported meat.”

She says that there is a need to address this, target areas that “make our own products expensive, and keep supporting our farmers on good farm practices for quality birds and animals.”

For now, Vuvula is the only local supplier of day-old chicks and they struggle to meet the local demand from farmers.

Food works Supplies Ltd has its own processing facilities in Lunga, East of Honiara. For years they have been buying chicken from local farmers to process and sell, but admit that the issue is the price charged by local farmers – who are also trying to make a profit for themselves.

The Managing Director, Mr. Tony Tepeaihana, said that because of such challenges he decided to approach the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for support.

“I know the ministry team, which included the Permanent Secretary, were convinced when they saw how much I had already invested into my processing facilities.”

Mr. Tepeaihana is also trying to support a group of poultry farmers by forming an association, who, collectively, can address issues they face - especially a ready market locally for their chicken when they are ready. The price of feed is also another issue that requires collective action.

Mr. Tepeaihana said that the members of the association were excited when they heard that the ministry gave the green light for his project.

He assures the government that they are committed to ensure that their plans succeed, not just for the good of the economy, but also for local poultry farmers.

Source: Agriculture Information Unit, MAL