Yesterday, a rice harvesting ceremony was conducted at the Secondary School, St. Joseph, the only school to have been growing rice made possible by the Taiwan Embassy and the CNURA government.

"The ceremony is a clear manifestation of countless proven evidence that we can and are able to grow rice," said Hon. Selwyn Riumana, the Minister for Agriculture.

"The ministry will continue to work very closely with the school in furthering the development of your rice farm by the way of technical and financial support now and in the future and hope the MOU signed between the local government and Taiwan Embassy will bear lasting fruits," he said.

He stressed that rice has become a very important commodity to Solomon Islanders as almost everyone turn to rice as their staple food.

"Unfortunately rice is one of the most political crops today and not many donors would support rice production in the country, because Solomon Islands is being used as the market destiny for rice," he includes.

He also stressed that in year 2007, rice imports was $168.8 m and in year 2008 rice imports have risen to $200m.

He also extended his gratitude to the National Rice Coordinator and the Taiwan Technical Mission (TTM) for technical support. The Solomon Islands government gave $343,065.00 worth of farm equipment to support the programme.

He also congratulated the school Principal, Christ Rabaua for the school's achievements in their rice farming endeavors and their contribution in the agricultural development in the country.

"Our school is proud to be an active recipient of this collaborative effort We are grateful for this partnership we have that will continue to benefit our school greatly," said the school's Principle Chris Rabaua in his address.

"It is very evident that despite the very huge rise in rice prices, rice is still very much a demanded product in the shops," he said.

In his address, Taiwan Ambassador, H.E George Chan said, "The success of the St. Joseph's School's rice project has great significances for Solomon Islands. It strongly proved again that through the joint cooperation among private stakeholders, the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock Development, and the Taiwan Technical Mission, Solomon Islands has enough ability to produce abundant self-grown rice."