The UN Food and Agricultural Organization last week signed a food security rice assistance programme with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Nadi, Fiji.

Speaking with Solomon Times the Undersecretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Alfred Maesulia, who just returned from Fiji having signed the SBD$1.9million agreement, mentioned that the assistance was "due to the soaring prices of rice."

"This is a regional assistance signed by the FAO with the Pacific, mainly to offset the soaring prices of rice world wide," he said.

He stated that the SBD$1.9 million assistance from the FAO will be added to the governments SBD$25 million supplementary budget, also earmarked for similar projects.

Mr. Maesulia stated that with the assistance from FAO, "the project on rice planting will begin in Guadalcanal."

"We are identifying possible farmers in Guadalcanal, and some other institutions in Guadalcanal, to implement the project," said Mr. Maesulia. "As soon as we are ready we will request for the funds and start with the rice projects."

Mr. Maesulia said that Guadalcanal was chosen to start the project because it would be relatively easier for the FAO to monitor the project.

He adds that the FAO has already supplied seeds for rice and other machineries, the tractors arrived late last week.