A three days session of constructive with stirring spirited discussion to validate the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) first ever 10-year Agriculture Sector Growth Strategy and Investment Plan (ASGSIP 2021-2030) and action plan was successfully held from 14th -16th December at the Heritage Park Hotel.
Honourable Minister for MAL, Senley Levi Filualea officially opened the National Agriculture Conference (NAC) on 14th December.
MAL Permanent Secretary, Ethel Tebengi Frances, Deputy Secretary Technical, Michael Ho’ota, MAL Departmental Directors, Provincial Chief Field Officers (CFOs), Principal Field Officers (PFOs) and other senior officers of the ministry attended the conference.
The conference provided an opportunity for the Permanent Secretary Ms. Ethel Frances and her Deputy Secretary Technical Michael Ho’ota and all departmental Directors to meet with Chief Field Officers, Principal Field Officers and senior officers from the nine provinces to discuss and validate the ASGSIP 2021-2030 together with MAL’s Corporate Plan 2021-2024.
The forum was the first of its kind for MAL to organize as it brought together all agricultural think tank experts of the ministry to discuss ideas and agree to the roadmap as a way forward for the sector and where they want to see the agriculture sector in the next ten years.
Minister of MAL, Hon. Senley Filualea while acknowledging all the efforts of its staff toward the growth of the sector in the country said ASGSIP 2021-2030 is the first ever Solomon Islands Agriculture Sector Growth Strategy and Investment Plan (ASGSIP) that will guide the country in development of the sector in the next ten years.
The Minister stressed during his opening remarks that the workshop is happening at the right time because it allows the Ministry to align its Corporate Plan 2021-2024 to the new DCGA redirection policies recently approved by Cabinet.
“We will be the only ministry that will develop its corporate plan fully align to a new policy redirection.
“It is our duty to facilitate and support the government improve the livelihood of our people, create economic activities and build our country and so I am confident this 10-year roadmap is conduit where we can better facilitate collaborative efforts by all players in the agriculture sector,” Hon. Minister Filualea said.
MAL Permanent Secretary, Ethel Tebengi Frances said that “taking a sector-wide approach in developing agriculture sector is a strategic approach in that the performance of agriculture sector is measured by the collective contributions of all its key stakeholders including the government, private sector including our farmers, development partners, NGOs and churches.
“A sector wide approach aims to strengthen sector performances by increasing coherence and complementary of interventions in support of a common policy framework,” PS Frances said.
She said that the Ministry as a government agency overseeing agriculture sector only facilitate support and create conducive environment for the sector to thrive through development of policies and laws including regulations but the actual delivery is done by all who participated in productions therefore it is only meaningful that we all have a plan that sets out collective interventions to meet national targets.
The Permanent Secretary acknowledged the support of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) of the United Nation for funding support that allows them to engage Consultants from the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of the United Nation to put together the Strategy for the Ministry. Especially IFAD Pacific Islands Country Director Tawfig El-Zabri for his tireless efforts in mobilizing support for MAL and to FAO Consultant Mr Glaeser Anton for putting the Strategy together.
PS Frances, added that this three days’ workshop is to allow the Ministry to internally validate the strategy before sharing it to all stakeholders. The next process therefore is to present this to all stakeholders for their agreement hopefully in February 2021 then to Cabinet for blessing.”
In his closing remarks, MAL Deputy Secretary Technical, Michael Ho’ota on behalf of the Hon. Minister and the Permanent Secretary acknowledged the constructive and important contributions of everyone over the three days of discussions.
“Your presence here over the whole 3 days, indicates your commitment and seriousness in seeing that the agriculture sector is properly planned and managed to ensure growth as a resulting increase of the contribution of the agriculture sector towards the National Economy.”
“The inputs that you have given will go a long way in completing our corporate plan and most importantly getting more meat to say towards further validation of the ASGSIP 2021-2030 by other sectors and the final launching of ASGSIP which look to happen in the first quarter of 2021,” DST Ho’ota said.
He said agriculture remains the main activity for more than 85% of the population leaving in the rural areas and plays an important role with regards to the maintenance of food security, livelihoods Social Stability and peace for our Nation, Solomon Islands.
He said the development of this ASGSIP 2021-2030 and other relevant documents such as the MAL’s corporate plan 2021-2024 is timely after 40 years without a roadmap.
“We appreciate that there are many challenges facing the agriculture sector where there is no single answer and MAL cannot deal with this alone and needs a sector wide approach.
“I guess this is the first time that we have a road map that considers a sector wide approach towards agriculture development in the country, it identifies strategic opportunities and outlines an ambitious path to revitalise the agricultural sector to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of all Solomon Islanders, ensuring food and nutrition security and increased economic growth.
“Drawing up a very good roadmap and strategy may be the easiest part of the whole process, implementing it will be more challenging, where we will need all your cooperation and assistance,” Mr. Ho’ota said.
DST Ho’ota thanked the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ethel Frances for her leadership in initiating and getting the ASGSIP 2021-2030 to where it is now.
He also acknowledged local consultant Joseph Waleanisia for his guidance and support to MAL in putting the Ministry Corporate Plan professionally together and his advice with regards to the development of the ASGSIP.
Development of the ASGSIP 2021-2030 started last year with a nationwide consultations to all provinces including Honiara by local consultants with SIG funding support.